PART TWO – Pentecost to Israel (cont.)
The BC trip wasn’t fulfilling. My neck bothered me so much sleeping on the hard ground that I was brought to tears. There’s no rest in traveling thousands of miles in two weeks. Stay home and rest! There’s no rest in tenting, having to deal with occasional inclement weather and noise.
Most of all, as a believer, there’s no rest in seeking recreation or going sightseeing or doing anything as the world does and not as the Spirit of God leads. We never did it again.
What torment we put ourselves through because of the value we place on the attitudes and opinions of others toward us.
Realizing the effect of that grievous burden, we throw it off and are greatly relieved, until a day comes when we find it has somehow grown on our backs once more. We must make a choice between praise of man and praise of God.
How sweet the deliverance from a chain that binds
A man to many lords.
Peace and rest come to his soul,
Which he hasn’t known before!
The disquieted mind beleaguered with questions,
Bedraggled with doubt and confusion,
Struggles to know the answer at hand,
Which seems to be an illusion.
How fruitless the concentration
On opinions of other people!
How taxing the consternation
About all their thoughts and actions!
To the extent one values their words
And seeks to be praised of men,
To this extent are they his lords
And idols are they within.
Seek not to prove that the wrong are wrong;
Seek not to prove you are right;
But speak the truth both gently and wisely
And leave it without a fight.
Fear no man but fear only God,
For once all is said and done,
To God will we answer,
And He is the Judge
Of all things under the sun.
All things that are hidden
Will come to the light
In due time, whether good or bad,
And when His plan is fully complete,
Then all will receive praise of God.
In the late ‘70s, on one of our trips, we decided to drive up to Battleford, Saskatchewan and visit George Hawtin. Mr. Hawtin was writing and distributing The Page, which he would print on a Gestetner and send out to thousands of people. We were receiving it because Carroll Vance had shared a copy with us, we were interested, and we subscribed. The main attraction to us of George’s writings was that he preached the reconciliation of all things.
The Hawtins graciously received us, and as we visited, they realized that I was the one who had sent them a letter, a year or more before, wherein I corrected him on his writing on Mystery, Babylon the Great. In that article, he identified the Roman Catholic Church as the Mother of Harlots of Revelation 17. I disagreed, saying that while the RCC was a prime present-day manifestation of Mystery, it was not Mystery per se.
My argument was that Mystery represented false religion, which was around from the beginning, her essence existing in other religions long before the RCC was formed. I pointed out information in the Old Testament similar to the description of Mystery in Revelation, passages in Ezekiel, I believe, perhaps chapter 27.
George and his wife didn’t disagree with what I had shared with them. They expressed surprise that I was so young for what I had written (age 32). In later editions of his writing on Mystery, Mr. Hawtin made adjustments in agreement with me. I appreciated his willingness to change, because I had seen how many get too proud and stubborn in their doctrines and opinions to admit error, especially as they grow older.
George had just caught some trout, and they shared with us the fresh pan-fried fish for supper. It was delicious. We enjoyed their fellowship and were on our way.
I recall that part of our conversation with the Hawtins over supper concerned the Jews. If my memory serves me correctly, Mr. Hawtin made the point that Jews needed to realize and admit that they were guilty of the blood of Jesus Christ; however, they also needed to know that all of humanity was guilty of His blood. Mr. Hawtin’s point was that we all needed the Savior, He laid down His life for us all, to pay for our sins, and therefore we were all guilty. I wholeheartedly agreed.
It seems to me that this topic came up because there was a notion going around that the Jews weren’t guilty and therefore shouldn’t be blamed, hated, and persecuted. While we agreed that they shouldn’t be hated or persecuted, we also agreed that the right thing for Jews to do was confess their guilt. It would be wrong of us to absolve them of their sin in order to try to diminish or eliminate anti-Semitism, instead of facing up to that guilt with them and encouraging them through it.
Indeed, I believe that their failure to acknowledge their sin of slaying their Messiah is at the core of their problem and the cause of anti-Semitism. Jews must come to terms with their sin; it is the only way to their salvation, freedom, and peace.
We saw an ad in the paper for new discount jeans being sold privately. I needed jeans, so we responded. The seller turned out to live at a country home near Ashville, about 10 miles west of Dauphin, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Priest, formerly Marilyn Winters. She had married Harold and was expecting. Harold was a proud graduate from Prairie Bible Institute of Three Hills, Alberta.
Talking to him, I knew Marilyn had married a religious unbeliever. I must say I was greatly grieved. With him, she was now spiritually dead. Had she known he wasn’t a true believer? She had known many things from the Lord. God had used few people in our lives as He had her to confirm things He was telling me.
I now realized why she had hesitated to receive the truths we were sharing with her the year before at our home. She wasn’t prepared to forsake a marriage in the works. I believe she knew from the Lord that she shouldn’t have married. I felt like we had lost a precious sister, and we had.
Had she followed in the footsteps of her father? Had her father brought that curse on his household?
Of all my songs, there are three that were written in two sittings, years apart. These were some of the first ones I wrote, and this one, interestingly enough, speaks of two births. While I knew the first spiritual new birth, and had written of it, I didn’t write of the second, which is the resurrection, until I experienced it much later on.
It is therefore most befitting that the words of this song came in two parts. The first part came as a poem with only words. It is now a song, the music coming somewhere between the two sittings. Here is the first part:
The shadow of the gallows tree
Spreads darkly o’er the grave,
And in the dust I toss and turn,
Hoping He will save.
I know the work is good as done;
He did it all for me;
He laid my sins upon His Son,
Who suffered the gallows tree.
Some day I’ll be a flutterby,
No more to crawl or squirm,
But it’s His work, I can’t deny,
For I am but a worm.
The angels watch from up above
To see this work beneath;
When God has formed in me His love,
His holy sword He’ll sheath,
And glorious will be that day
When Jesus Christ is manifest,
The day for which the saints do pray,
The whole world will be blessed.
We drove to Russell, Manitoba to hear Apollo astronaut Colonel James Irwin speak. Mr. Irwin professed faith in Christ and was sponsored by an evangelical church. The event drew 300-500 people to this little town.
When Mr. Irwin was done speaking of his flight to the moon and giving his testimony of the Lord, the main event kicked in. Several church officials and organizers of the event called themselves forward to receive award plaques on stage.
Of course, the awards were planned. The plaques were there, many of them, and the ceremony quite orchestrated. I was amazed at the obviousness of their focus on themselves, though obviously, this wasn’t so obvious to them.
There was no word of testimony of the Lord from these Christian organizers, no sense of a spiritual work in Christ having occurred, and even words of gratitude and recognition for James Irwin seemed lacking. The principle thrust was one of self-congratulation that they pulled off what they thought was such a grand and seemingly impossible scheme as bringing Colonel James Irwin to their little country town of Russell.
I could hardly believe this was happening. Didn’t they realize what they were doing?
We had intermittent conflict with Archie and Cathie Hafichuk over the years. They were ever unpredictable – one never knew what to expect from them.
Archie sent an audiotape to us. In it, he enthusiastically and glowingly declared the Lord had revealed to him that I had a rare and wondrous relationship with the Lord, that He greatly loved me, and that I had a great calling on my life.
I was surprised, yet thankful to hear that Archie was receiving revelation of my calling and life in Christ, considering all the conflict we had experienced with him. We thought the conflict was finally ended. Were we wrong!
We called him to visit by phone, but again found a strange aloofness or coolness toward us, so incompatible with the audio he mailed us. It seemed their moods and perspectives could change in a heartbeat, though Archie didn’t attempt to deny that the Lord showed him the things he declared of me in the tape.
Being slow as usual in catching on, thinking that perhaps we caught them in a temporary mood or set of unpleasant circumstances when we called, we decided to pay them a visit in Calgary. Arriving at their door, expecting a welcome reception, there was instead an attitude that said something like, “What are you doing here? Who invited you?” Our peace immediately returned to us.
“And into whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this house. And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest on it. If not, it shall return to you” (Luke 10:5-6 MKJV).
We didn’t know enough to turn on our heels and leave. Entering, and trying to make peace, things proceeded as usual with them. They would begin by reluctantly receiving us, the heavy atmosphere would dissipate, and they would grow somewhat friendlier. Then Archie gave me a hug, and as he hugged me, he said, “We have to stop stabbing each other in the back.”
I suddenly felt like I had just embraced a manure pile. “What?” I asked myself, “What is he talking about?” I asked him how he thought I was doing that to him. He couldn’t answer.
I concluded he was expressing his conduct toward me and perhaps assuming I had been doing the same to him. I don’t recall what happened next, but things weren’t at all resolved to our satisfaction. That night, we slept in their unfinished basement, and the next day we left. On the way out, the Lord spoke to me, giving me the following Scriptures concerning them:
“Know this also, that in the last days grievous times will be at hand. For men will be self-lovers, money-lovers, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unyielding, false accusers, without self-control, savage, despisers of good, traitors, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it; even turn away from these” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 MKJV).
My heart was breaking. I felt very badly, but I knew the Lord had spoken. Sadly, we left.
Around this time, I had a very unpleasant vision of my mother. She was stout, with uniform thickness in body, as a large tree trunk, shaking her fist at heaven, cursing God with a horrible growl or roar. I don’t recall anything in particular to provoke or inspire such a picture of her.
Word came to us that Marv Isum was dismissed as a teacher from Living Faith Bible College because of some scandalous event concerning monetary matters. He had been an insecure, proud, covetous man that wouldn’t receive a Word from God through me in 1977 for his good.
When a contrary man contemns conviction and contends, contradicting himself, conflict, condemnation, and consequences are the conclusion.
Archie related to me how the “apostle” Bob Turrell was hired as pastor of Grace Gospel Church. (Which begs the question: Aren’t apostles apostles, and pastors pastors?) Turrell insisted on several thousands of dollars per month in salary. He came, stayed a while, created a conflict in the congregation, and eventually was gone.
In due time, his fruits came to confirm what I saw in Canmore in 1976, but not before some people were offended and disillusioned. Such vain, greedy men bring reproach to the Lord’s Name. Why didn’t the elders of his church see it coming, people like John Martello and Gordon Donaldson?
Don Morrison was reported to have confessed regret that he had been deceived and was in dismay of things Turrell was guilty of doing. Just what kind of prophet was Morrison that he didn’t see through a false apostle, even partnering up with him for conferences? Did Don have a spirit of divination while posing as a prophet of God?
We needed to make a 400-mile round trip for ARC Industries from Dauphin to Winnipeg in the winter of 1978-79 for ceramics supplies, but the weather was always stormy and the roads hazardous (it was a consistently tough winter). Finally, there was a break in the weather, so we headed out in our Volkswagen. The weather soon became stormy again, but we kept on. It was snowing heavily; the temperature was initially about –20°F and the wind chill made it much colder. I believe the temperature dropped further after we left.
Along the roads we witnessed several vehicles in the ditches and semi-trailers jackknifed. We were forced to take a motel in Portage La Prairie for the night. Motorists had frozen batteries, and tow trucks couldn’t keep up with the demands. We didn’t remain where we were, and we didn’t turn back. We left the motel the next morning, plowing through snow ruts and drifts all the way to Winnipeg, past all the ditched and stranded vehicles.
This wouldn’t have been so easy if we hadn’t had an engine in the rear, as Volkswagens had then, yielding the necessary traction on the rear drive wheels. On our way back, our car was loaded with an additional 300 pounds or so of ceramic molds. The heater didn’t work, so we were quite “cool,” but we were well dressed for the conditions.
When we got back, we found that everyone had been wondering how we were doing. The papers reported the storm of the year, if not of the decade, with all the attendant troubles. We had passed through the whole thing as though nearly nothing had happened. I was surprised at the newspaper reports, though we had seen all the signs of trouble on the road.
It seemed as though we had been miraculously transported while mildly sedated, so as to not even be aware of the implications or possible effects of such a storm. The lesson we learned in that event was that the Lord can take us through anything, that we need fear nothing at any time. It was never a matter of “weather permitting,” but of Lord willing, always. The creek can rise all it wants!
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t fear or fret thereafter. I am ashamed to admit it, but I would have to say that my first name has been “Unbelief,” and my second, “Worrywart.” It’s shameful, but true.
On one of our trips to Winnipeg, I dropped in on Uncle Fred Hafichuk at Manitoba Telephone Systems on Portage Avenue. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, but I was received coldly. Considering the close and confidential relationship we once had, and how I had never intended any wrong to him or anyone else, it was hard to take.
As I sat across the desk from him, I saw his eyes. While he wasn’t being honest and openly hostile toward me, his eyes revealed a hatred that was scary. I think I cried when I left, having been there for only a few minutes and knowing there was no point in sticking around. The hatred was disturbing; it seemed so evil. I believe I discerned a devil in him. I would hear of the premature and unhappy end of an uncle and former friend.
Oh, how differently would I handle those situations today, years later, with what I now know and understand!
Soon after Uncle and Auntie Atamanchuk moved into town from the farm, Uncle deteriorated rapidly, gaining weight from lack of exercise. However, in his last days, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he was reading the Bible. He gleefully reported how he was finding things in the Bible for himself, rather than depending on a priest to inform him.
I’m afraid I didn’t take time to get into the Scriptures with him, but it seemed like a closed door. I just didn’t have it to spend my time and energy there. Uncle had also lost his hearing, so it was difficult communicating with him. Besides, he didn’t ask me for anything.
In the losses we bore as we forsook all to follow the Lord, we were discovering that “a man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of that which he possesses” (Luke 12:15). We were also learning about the sovereignty of God, how He is over all and engineers all things according to His will.
In Dauphin, Manitoba, in the winter of ‘78-‘79, the Lord gave me to express the realities of these things in a song – “Do We Thank God and Live?”
(Click HERE to listen to “Do We Thank God and Live?” or to read the lyrics.)
We discovered a pattern occurring with us. Occasionally, savings would begin to accumulate, and we would wonder why. Inevitably, it turned out that they weren’t there to accumulate indefinitely; we would have an approaching need for them.
In February of 1979, our savings were greater than we had known before. The Lord spoke to me, saying, “It is now time for you to go to Israel. Give notice at work and begin to sell all your belongings.”
In the seventh year from my conversion to Christ, my age being 33, we were headed to Israel.
END OF PART II
NEXT SECTION: PART III – ISRAEL TO BERNALILLO