PART THREE– Israel to Bernalillo (cont.)
Moishe could always find a way out of personal pickles, one way or another, obvious or not. One day when he was asking for money, I confronted him, saying he needed to make his needs known to God, not to men. It was a lesson God had taught me, and one I believed was meant for every believer:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 MKJV).
As I pressed home this truth, and his arguments failed, he broke into an affected, “Oy, oy, oy! My head! Oy, my head! Oy! Oy!” I found it hard to believe he was being so obviously evasive.
It appeared that Jesus wasn’t his Lord, but his Larder.
Moishe was a shnorrer (look it up in a Yiddish dictionary). He was constantly hitting anybody and everybody up for handouts. As little as we had to do with him, we witnessed this several times. He shnorred when he was asleep and shnorred when he was awake. He was forever shnorring.
Was he wise in his spending and money management? Could you give him anything with confidence that he respected or appreciated it? For example, he drove a big black old Cadillac, a gas-guzzler someone gave him. I was with him one day as he drove through central downtown Winnipeg. His driving was fast, crooked, and careless, as if he were driving an almost uncontrollable bumper car at an amusement park. Pedestrians, parked cars, moving cars, parking meters, fire hydrants, buildings, beware.
There was often something going wrong for Moishe. “Brudder, oyyy, brudder, my wife is sick and we don’t have any food! Could you spare some money? Oy, oy, oy!” He would carry on in a pitiful manner, but the moment the money touched his hand, his countenance was immediately transformed, not to thankfulness, but to a sense of urgency to depart. He was gone in a flash, barely, if ever, taking the time to say, “Thank you,” as though there was a risk the donor would change his mind. It was like he had planted a bomb and set the timer with an allowance of only seconds to exit.
It was strange. Didn’t he realize we might rightly or wrongly perceive he was playing us? Were these habits he learned in Auschwitz? Did he view everyone as a schlemiel?
Moishe was also skilled and industrious in ways. He built the wooden fences for the truck box in a meticulous way (he wouldn’t let me do it). He would fix things and do his own mechanics on the car, even changing the large heavy-duty coil springs that gave that smooth old Cadillac ride. I have to admit he did try to make ends meet with some honest effort.
The day came when Moishe’s Cadillac got unfixed in such a way that he was helpless, no matter how skilled. While driving, he got hit by lightning! Everything electrical in his car was suddenly a confounded nightmare, a write-off. We had no doubt the Lord was against him in his hypocritical ways, using His Name to impress rather than edify, deceive rather than enlighten, beg rather than offer, get rather than give… and prey rather than pray!
Marilyn and I caught the city bus to Transcona to visit a Pentecostal church. They were showing a film on the Jim Jones tragedy. As we sat near the back, a couple near their sixties sat directly in front of us. They were dressed in their Sunday best while we were in casual clothing. At one point, the woman turned around and looked at us with apparent contempt. We found out it was the superintendent of several churches and his wife.
As we watched the film of the history and happenings of the Jim Jones affair that led to the deaths of approximately 900 deluded people, the falsehood and deception was quite clear to us. We marveled that people could be duped by something so obviously wrong.
When the film ended, the pastor stood up, gasping, astonished at what he had seen. “I don’t know what to say! That could have been us there! Who would ever know it would come to that? How could anyone know? I can only say I’m thankful I wasn’t there!”
Those weren’t exactly his words, but the idea was that they would have had no way of seeing through Jim Jones – it was more a matter of chance than anything else that they were spared the deception and resulting consequences. The story seemed to frighten him.
I thought, “Here is a man who is not only a professing believer, but the pastor of a Pentecostal church, and not only a pastor, but one teaching about, if not supposing to have, the gifts of the Spirit, one of those being the discerning of spirits. And he can’t see the obvious spiritual falsehood that was going on there? No wonder people are dying! They’re in abject darkness, prey to anything that comes to devour.”
I went home shaking my head. Was it any wonder the Lord required me to leave all formal organized religion? He was calling me out of darkness! Here was a denomination that was presumably one of the more advanced of all denominations, having the “Spirit of God” no less, yet so blind and lost.
We received a call from Paul in January 1980. He was on his way from the U.S. to see us. He had been in touch with our telephone company, waiting for us to be listed with their information service, which would happen when we got our land-based phone. When he arrived, we were very happy to see him. He remained for six weeks. We tried talking about spiritual matters during this time, but it was difficult. Paul seemed to be out of it.
Suddenly, Archie and Cathie were at our door, without having given us any word. “We’re on our way to Toronto,” Archie said.
We were floored. I said, “We have a home booked for you on a social assistance program, just down the street. We made plans; we had an understanding. Now you tell us you’re not staying?! Why didn’t you let us know?”
They were hardened once again, didn’t offer an apology, and didn’t seem to care a whit about how they had let us down. “We went to a prayer meeting with Carroll and Yvonne Vance, Jim Flynn, John and Trudy Leyenaar, and others,” they said. “They had prophecies for us that we were supposed to go to Toronto, blessing us in going.”
They remained with us for a few days and reconsidered. One evening Archie and Cathie went out to see the house we had arranged for them, leaving us to babysit their children. Nathan, the baby, was in the dark basement in his crib. He was asleep when they left, but the basement door being open, we soon heard him crying.
After trying several things to quiet him and failing, and not knowing what to do, I gave him some light slaps on his diaper-padded behind, being ignorant and annoyed. This obviously didn’t stop the crying, but soon Archie and Cathie arrived, and Cathie took Nathan and settled him down. I regret being so ignorant of children and spanking Nathan, though I didn’t physically hurt him.
On another day, Chris was crawling around in his diapers and sat on the sofa. The sofa was wet where he had sat and I was sure he had wet it. I insisted that he be spanked to teach him not to do what he did (spanking often seemed to be my primary solution). It turned out that there was a leak in the ceiling, and water had dripped onto the sofa.
What a strange coincidence! About 1200 square feet of living space on the main floor of a 3-story building (where a leak is most unlikely, at least from the outdoors), and the ceiling leaks nowhere but where Chris sat on the sofa, in a room we seldom used! And I don’t recall it ever leaking at any other time in the 18 months we lived there.
I felt badly and apologized for having wrongfully blamed Chris. Was the Lord showing them what they would get themselves into with me, if they were to remain with us? I think so. I had a long way to go.
Archie and I walked and talked, discussing various things. I still tried to reason with him. Archie had a hard, unpredictable spirit. He and Cathie both did.
We continued to show them hospitality. “We had agreed that you would come and learn from us. What happened to that?” I asked.
“We have learned things from you!” Archie insisted. “The other night, you made us hot drinks and served them up yourself. I never do that kind of thing.”
Floored again. I thought, “He eats a crumb from the plate and says he has eaten? One day at school and he thinks it’s graduation time? There’s the whole land of Canaan to be taken and they settle for a grape?”
How slow on the uptake could I possibly be? I was coming to the conclusion there was no use trying to reason with them. They hadn’t changed at all.
One morning, Archie sat stewing for a time and then spoke. “Paul,” he said strongly, with dramatic effect, “go home.” His words suggested the Lord was speaking by him (Paul was still visiting us).
“Where’s that?” Paul asked, in a slightly testy response.
Archie replied that he should go back to his home city, Philadelphia, perhaps to his parents.
Paul replied that it was no longer his home. I seem to recall that Archie repeated himself (not sure).
I then said to him, “Archie, that was not a Word from the Lord. It doesn’t witness with us.”
Archie was somewhat defiant and defensive. I said, “You’re not serving God. You’re deceived. Those people in Calgary prophesied falsely to you, in emotion because of the parting. They said things from their own feelings, not from the Lord.”
I went on to say that it wouldn’t be good at all for them in Toronto, that they were headed for hard times. Archie proudly insisted he was afraid of nothing or no one, and that his only intent was to serve God. Had I said anything about being afraid of anyone?
I finally said, “Go. I’ll say no more. You have your mind made up, and now you must go.” I was finished trying to reason with them.
I’ve learned that the Lord has many reasons for doing anything. As Mickey used to prophesy in Prince Albert, “The Lord’s purposes are manifold.” Archie and Cathie were supposed to stay in Winnipeg, and the Lord had even arranged for a home and occupation, but they refused. Yet they needed to go to Toronto to be taken through trials, and we weren’t ready to deal with them, anyway. Though we knew we had much to teach them, we had much to learn ourselves. We also needed changing.
So they left, and I told them that I wasn’t going to continue communications with them. We had previously renewed acquaintance with them, even as they had requested, tried helping them again and came up feeling sorely abused. They hadn’t changed a whit from the time the Lord told us to turn away from them. I wasn’t the least interested in ever seeing them again.
Just after they left, I recalled a vision I had of Archie some time before. I’d seen his face; he was dazed. Ravens had pecked out his eyes.
The prophecies over them in Calgary were the fulfillment of the vision. I was reminded of a proverb:
“The eye that mocks at his father and despises to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” (Proverbs 30:17 MKJV).
I assumed it was the last we would be seeing of them. I was wrong.
While Paul was visiting us during that time in January and February of 1980, he had a dream from the Lord. This is his record:
“The world leaders, including Khomeini and the Soviets, were gathered together with Pope John Paul II. He was dressed as the pope from the front, but when I saw him from behind, his frock was open, split down the middle. This exposed his naked body, which is that of an attractive woman, whose walk was one in high heels, hips swaying, and beckoning to men, ‘Come have sex with me’.”
Spending time with Paul, it became clear we weren’t accomplishing anything with him, either. Paul was like a zombie much of the time, in a state of some sort of inexplicable stupor.
I said, “Paul, you need to go. There is nothing for us to do for now.”
We rented a car and drove Paul across the border to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he caught a bus to Albuquerque, New Mexico – why there, I don’t recall.
After a few weeks, he headed back to Philadelphia. There, Paul spent a bit of time with Alison, his unlawful wife, until they both realized it wasn’t right or good, and so parted again. Paul kept in touch with us. Those times were a mystery for all of us – times of no direction, no spiritual companionship, and no substantial spiritual works. I wondered if Archie’s prophetic direction to Paul to go home to Philadelphia was of God after all, especially given that things had finally closed with Alison.
Many would like to be of value and importance to others. In one of these years, I came to the place where I could say to the Lord, “If You wish to work with me and leave me as a nobody, if You choose that I get no credit for anything, unlike with Moses and John the Baptist, for examples, so be it. I accept. All that is important is that Your will is done, whatever it is.”
Around the time of the Solidarity Movement in Poland, I had a vision of Lech Walesa. He was standing at a bar in dim lighting. I saw two men enter, dressed in common laborers’ clothing, and come up behind him, each stretching forth one arm, holding a hand about three inches over his head. It seemed they were praying, or pronouncing something over him. Then they left.
He ended up leading Solidarity to victory against General Jaruzelski’s government, but later, Lech seemed to have lost his power. I don’t remember if I saw this vision before or after the Solidarnocz victory.
We had a parking space assigned to our suite, but nothing to park. Moishe came by for a visit one day, and he had a beater pickup truck lent to him by a Mennonite evangelical farmer, Henry, whom Moishe was always hitting up for handouts. Henry thought that by lending him a truck Moishe might somehow use for income, it may prevent him from digging into Henry’s pockets. Moishe accepted the truck, but had nowhere to park it. He asked if we had space and we gave him ours.
Moishe planned to use the truck for delivery service in the city. However, not being physically able, he needed an operator. Seeing I wasn’t working, he asked if I would do it. We asked the Lord, were at peace to go with it, and soon we were in a tiny moving and hauling business.
We started advertising in the classifieds, offering low rates, as Moishe had advised us to do, and got cheap customers who nickel-and-dimed me terribly. We raised our prices and got more and better customers. We raised our rates again and could barely keep up with the business. The Lord was showing me that life, business, and success aren’t about low prices.
On one of the first truck hauls, I was to deliver some furniture in the St. James area for a woman. While my helper and I were there, she suddenly had a seizure. I suspected it was demonic possession, but was restrained by the Spirit to pray for her. While I was there, her son-in-law and daughter, Mike and Theresa Trepanier, who were in their 20’s, strode in to the rescue and began to pray for her.
Mike publicly confessed faith in Christ and was involved in a Pentecostal church. It seemed that he intended to impress me with his spiritual testimony, praying for the sick. After the woman came out of her seizure (she wasn’t delivered), Mike and I visited for a short while, talking about spiritual matters, and then I left.
One day Mike unexpectedly dropped by our home, saying he was in the neighborhood and the Lord told him to say to me, “Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord.” I didn’t know what to make of it, whether it was his own thoughts or whether the Lord actually spoke those words to him.
Mike then asked that we have a time of prayer. I asked him if there was anything in particular he wanted to pray about. There wasn’t.
I sensed Mike was being religious, so I said, “Unless we have something worthwhile to bring before the Lord, the religious act of prayer isn’t acceptable to God. Are you going to just talk? Do you really think you have anything to say to Him? Doesn’t the Bible teach that, when we are before Him, we ought to keep our mouths (Ecclesiastes 5:1-2)?” (Mike’s idea of prayer was mostly about speaking and little about hearing.)
I said to him, “Here, let’s get on our knees, and we’ll see that there is nothing to be said to Him” (I was moved by the Spirit of God to make this suggestion). We got down on our knees and suddenly the Presence of God was upon us in a very special way. Mike marveled and excitedly remarked, “You’re right! What can anybody say? He knows everything, even what we think!”
We had both received the distinct impression of God’s Presence and omniscience, independently of each other. I marveled that He should do this for us. Mike thanked me and was on his way.
Who says there is no God?
Marilyn and I took a walk near the St. Boniface Hospital only blocks from our home. There on a street corner, I saw a nun speaking to some young women. I had the urge to speak to her. We walked up to them, and I said, “Why do you dress in black if you choose to represent Jesus Christ? Jesus is not black; He is white.”
Some of the women giggled nervously (I perceived they were mentally handicapped). The nun replied, “I desire to serve Him with all my heart.”
“Then you must represent Him as He is – white, and not black,” I responded.
We left, having no more to say.
Aside from Bible school in 1974 with structured writing activities, I first began writing on spiritual and Biblical matters in 1980, this time, spontaneously. I covered perhaps half a dozen topics, but the only ones I remember were on Christmas, perhaps the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and a bigger one on how to identify false prophets. I tried distributing these.
I recall visiting my former best friend, Gerry McClintock, at his office at Continental Grain. He was successful with his company, having risen to the top. I was surprised to see him silver-haired by then. I shared the writings with him, which I expect he didn’t read. As I look back, I don’t think he was missing much; I wasn’t ready to do what I was trying to do.
The Lord spoke to me saying, “If you are willing to let go of these [writings], I will give you something much better.” I burned the writings. The reward for obedience wasn’t immediate.
The trucking business increased, but because the truck was an older one, it wasn’t long before repairs were necessary. I informed Moishe that his profits would have to go to repairs, and he must have spoken to Henry, the Mennonite farmer and truck owner, who was quite annoyed. He’d been hoping to end Moishe’s constant requests for handouts by letting him use the truck.
I wasn’t about to be investing in it, seeing that my having it was tentative at best. However, I had obtained and paid for a business license and was advertising. I had lined up several appointments to move people when Henry came and said, “The gravy train is over. I’m taking the truck back.”
He seemed to think I was making a lot of money for nothing, which wasn’t the case. When I tried reasoning with him, asking him to allow me to at least finish my commitments to customers, he brushed my concerns aside, refusing to compromise.
Perhaps Henry was right. Perhaps I was counting on someone else picking up the tab for the truck repairs while I kept the income, but I do recall the truck needing a lot of repairs. Henry thought he was doing Moishe a favor; I suppose Moishe thought I should pay for something, and I didn’t see how we would ever make enough money to support the truck.
I immediately set out to buy a used truck. Checking the classifieds, I found a forest green 1973 Ford F250 ¾ ton on a used vehicles sales lot near Ericksen’s garage on King Edward St. They were asking $2,300 for it. I went to look at it, taking Art Beals with me for his opinion on it, and then returned home to consider and pray. The salesman was a one-armed character who evoked a little sympathy from me. Without asking, he came by our place with the truck. I told them all I could afford was $1,750, and they accepted. I continued business with barely a hesitation.
That truck would turn out to be the most useful, profitable, and economical automobile I have ever purchased to date, serving me and others well for years.
But Moishe was again foiled in his hopes for income. He continued to ask me for money. Marilyn and I both knew we couldn’t give to him; it would only be encouraging him in his covetous and religious folly, and he wasn’t prepared to listen to any advice, spiritual or otherwise.
Neither was his wife, Elizabeth, an older native, very humble or willing to change. She professed faith and presumed to be an evangelist of God. One day, while helping Moishe move some furniture, we asked something of her. “Don’t interrupt me!” she indignantly bawled. “I’m ministering in prayer to someone!”
I wasn’t aware she was on the phone doing so. Was I supposed to have known?
We went to a Kenneth Hagin “crusade” in Winnipeg. There we saw and spoke with Tim Wegener from the Richardson group, the people we had met in Dauphin three years earlier. He had suffered a nervous breakdown, overworked by his spiritual shepherds.
Tim told us about Sue, the woman who had rebuked me at the tent meeting in 1977 for questioning her leader, Mrs. Richardson, and her prophecy. Sue was also burned out from stress and exhaustion.
He told us about John Poepke, that his wife had died of her illness, and he had gone back to the bottle, from which he had been redeemed not many years before we met him.
He finally told us about Edna Gremadza of Sheho, Saskatchewan, who had also followed the Richardsons and who fell away in disillusionment and resentment. The Richardson fruits were not good.
Edna was the one who said I had a Catholic spirit. We would see her in the future in a deplorable state.