PART FOUR– Bernalillo to Moon River (cont.)
My mother had often put the onus on Dad for not believing us, for not coming out of the Catholic Church, for not being in touch with us. She said she agreed with us, but didn’t wish to upset him. We didn’t believe her; now that Dad was gone, what would she do? As expected, she did nothing, and she was without her prime excuse – it made no difference. Paul was moved to write her a letter, confronting her on her disingenuousness, which he did.
She called four days after the funeral. I told her the vision I had of Dad, passing over to the next world with elated face. As expected, though she said nothing, I knew she didn’t believe me.
I was somewhat surprised when I heard things our landlord, Nick Gerstenbuhler, had to say concerning Jews: “Hitler was right! They should all have been exterminated. Then the world’s troubles would be over!” He was rabid. I didn’t say anything, not thinking there was any point, so ignorant and dogmatic he was. His son, Armin, brushed it off as, “I don’t agree with Dad. He’s from the old school.”
Armin saw it as “old school”? Was there not more at stake here than simply having a difference in education and point of view? Didn’t they learn anything from the war, and from the fact that Hitler was destroyed in his folly? I was rather amazed by Nick’s ignorance, bitterness, and outspoken antisemitic sentiments, and by Armin’s laissez faire attitude to what was a serious matter of great spiritual, social, and political import.
One day in the spring, when we returned from Camrose or Stettler, to our surprise, there was a “For Sale” sign in our front yard. Nick Gerstenbuhler and Armin had promised they wouldn’t sell our home. The house quickly sold. Now, not only had they broken their promise, they didn’t give us the notice required by law, which was three months’ notice. They wanted us out by the end of that month.
Furthermore, they had no intention of paying us the three months’ rent legally due to tenants should they be forced to move prematurely, not that tenants could legally be forced to do so.
The house sold quickly, and we had to move. The eviction was a blessing, a provision of God, because we had no money to pay the next month’s rent, which was due in two weeks. (The Gerstenbuhlers didn’t know that.) I insisted, however, that they honor the law, and as a result, they paid us the penalty fee, which gave us money to place a deposit on another rental home.
I called Keith Bickerton, Brian’s older brother, who took us to 68 Laval Court. Alfred Fuegl, the owner, a chef from Calgary, wasn’t having immediate success selling it, so he decided to temporarily rent (here we go again for the third time, renting a house for sale that wasn’t selling). He and Keith were more honest with us. They suggested they would want to sell soon if possible, but I could work on painting and renovating, thus paying the rent.
Meanwhile, we had a home provided in a pinch – a win-win situation. The property also had a feature we hadn’t had before, an indoor swimming pool in a separate building, which I grew to enjoy.
Lois records a dream she had around this time:
“I was in a dark, dusty, dirty pit. There was a flat deck filled with dung, and I was moving it about with a putty knife and getting nowhere. Others there were doing the same. I tried many times to climb out of the pit, but the walls would just crumble and give way. The soil was as peat moss.
I looked up and saw an open arched door. It was bright, clean, and fresh outside that door, and I wanted to go there. But try as I may, I couldn’t get to the door.
Then, without knowing how, I was out the door and running. It was just as I had seen it to be: clean, fresh, green, and bright. As I was running, I passed Mark [her twelve-year-old son] and I wondered how it was that I could run faster than Mark.”
Lois began calling often. There were times when I would answer the phone and all I would hear was an outburst of sobbing. While I tried to steer her away from speculations about Howard and what was happening, it soon became known to her that Howard was indeed running around on her. My task wasn’t to change Howard, but to deal with Lois and her sins and faults. Also, I needed to caution the boys against any bitterness toward Howard. I didn’t want them influenced negatively by Lois, who was as much to blame as Howard.
We decided to water baptize those who professed faith in Christ and who wanted to be baptized. On May 5, 1985, we went to the Stettler High School Olympic-sized pool. Immersed in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ were Lois, Trevor, Mark, Delores Molnar, and Marj Harris, an elderly acquaintance of Lois’.
John the Immerser immersed people unto repentance. After him, Jesus, by His disciples, immersed people. At Pentecost and thereafter, Peter and others immersed people. Yet Paul minimized the importance of, or emphasis on, water immersion:
“I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest any should say that I had baptized in my own name. And I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides these, I do not know if I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel; not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:14-18 MKJV).
Of all those we had baptized in Prince Albert in 1975 and Dauphin in 1977, none remained. I was coming to the conclusion that as circumcision (and “the Lord’s supper”) came and went, so had water baptism. External ceremonies or acts simply didn’t do anything, as we experienced.
While there are those who read in Scripture about the importance or value of baptism, they fail to realize that those verses speak of Spirit baptism, not water baptism, as in:
“For also by one Spirit we are all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, even all were made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13 MKJV).
“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father; even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4 MKJV).
Though Peter and the disciples decided to water baptize Cornelius and his household, God gave them the Spirit before they were baptized:
“While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those hearing the Word. And those of the circumcision, who believed (as many as came with Peter), were astonished because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the nations [Gentiles] also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water that these, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we, should not be baptized?’” (Acts 10:44-47 MKJV).
This act of God was not entirely in harmony with the letter of Peter’s preaching to the multitude on the day of Pentecost, wherein he commanded that they first be water baptized, after which they would receive the spiritual baptism:
“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Jesus Christ to remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38 MKJV).
Make no mistake; at both times, God was in full control. Peter wasn’t doing his own thing in preaching at Pentecost, being full of the Spirit. All I’m saying is that while God conducted a transition time, water baptism would go the way of all things external. We would experience even more in the not-too-distant future to confirm what the Lord was teaching us about water baptism, indeed, externals in general.
There came a time when I became very angry with Fred Molnar. While we had tried to help them, while his entire household was in spiritual hell because of their ways (they had a daughter, Stacey, and a son, Garry, both troubled and lost), still he mocked me and found fault with everything I did.
We didn’t return to their place, but I finally wrote him a harsh letter, expressing my grievances. I don’t recall the words, but I wrote in graphical terms that I was defeating him as an enemy, dashing his brains against the wall with an iron rod, with blood splashing everywhere. I was very angry.
Delores was upset about the letter, thinking it wasn’t written in Christian love. When I asked the Lord about it (for I also had questions about such harshness), He said to me, “Your letter is but a slap on the hand compared to what he deserves.”
In June of 1985, we made our first summer visit to the Bensons’ forty acres near Stettler. I saw their John Deere lawn tractor in the yard. When they told me what it was worth, I realized that just in that tractor, an implement used for cutting the lawn and cultivating gardens, they had more than double the value of our earthly possessions. While I didn’t covet or even care, somehow it struck me as quite peculiar or interesting. I suppose it gave me a frame of reference as to the degree of our humble financial status.
As we sat visiting in the Benson home, Mark and I engaged in a discussion about the nature and definition of time. I don’t recall the conversation, but I do recall that at his age, which was about twelve, Mark was able to comprehend concepts well beyond the norm. He was able to understand and to verbalize rather effectively, and he much enjoyed these kinds of conversations. I would see these abilities at work many times.
I also saw that God’s hand was on him. Even in our play and other activities, he possessed a favor, beyond him. Mark talked a lot and was argumentative, emotional, willful, and persistent, but these traits could prove to be beneficial if channeled in the right directions. Lord willing, we’d see what God would do.
Trevor, Mark, and I spent many days on the Stettler, Bashaw, and Alix golf courses. In this pastime, there were important lessons in honesty and fair play. When I rebuked them for cheating, Mark began to do an honest scorecard. However, Trevor wasn’t so willing. This would frustrate Mark exceedingly. Mark needed to learn that while others cheated, he needed to be honest.
Trevor has “cheated on his scorecard” to this day, decades later. He takes the easy, selfish way out every time, without fail. The only times I have ever seen him do anything right or good of his own volition was when there was something in it for him, which is never the right or good thing. I thoroughly hate to say this, and I hope that something changes, but that’s the way it’s been.
While at the Bensons’ on the night of June 5, 1985, I had a dream in which Mark had done something to offend Howard, who was consequently very angry with him. Howard shouted, “Now you’ve done it!” Mark was bleeding profusely, I don’t recall why, possibly he had injured himself or Howard had injured him.
In the morning, we discovered Mark had a nosebleed in the night. His pillow was covered in blood.
I interpret the dream to mean that Howard was blaming Mark for the trouble and division in their family.
Delores talked about my letter to Fred more than once, not convinced I had done right. She would also occasionally gossip and murmur with Lois, speculating on how Marilyn and I were false ministers of God, applying mind control techniques. She once likened Marilyn to the “softie” who would win the confidence of our intended recruits, while I was the “axe man.”
On June 7th, as we visited in the Bensons’ screened porch, I confronted Delores on the things we were hearing from Lois. Finally, I got upset and said, “Delores, where do you come up with this garbage?”
I could have been somewhat hopeful if Delores had asked for help or expressed some remorse, or at least doubted what she was doing and saying, but no, she immediately retorted, “Well, where do you come up with all your garbage?”
“What garbage?” I asked.
She started to mumble and fumble for words and failed to come up with anything. I said, “OK, Delores, that’s it. All I hear is this unsubstantiated crap coming from you. I’ve had it with you.”
Delores knew that what I said was final, perhaps more than I did. She arose in anger and headed for the door. We accompanied her to her pickup. By then she was crying; she swiftly got into the truck and drove off. I then saw, in a vision, a serpent swiftly slithering away into the bushes and grass, in fear and fury.
I recalled how, years before, as we were driving to the Molnar residence, we ran over a snake in the road. The event in itself was nothing, but it seemed to portend spiritual realities. We even spoke of the event having spiritual significance when we drove over the snake.
That evening, we all agreed to take a drive to Drumheller for supper. I hadn’t yet learned my lesson about eating out.
I had to ask Mark and Trevor to remove their caps at the table. I find it uncouth for a man to eat a regular meal at the table, indoors, with a hat on, unless there’s some necessity for it. At least this is the way we were raised, but why, I don’t know.
Driving home, Lois posed a peculiar question to Marilyn and me. “How’s your sex life?” she asked.
I thought her question was impertinent and unnecessary, and I wondered why she was asking it. To me it seemed like evil curiosity. It was a precursor of what needed to be dealt with in Lois in the days to come. She had sexual problems, mentally and spiritually (perhaps physically as well, I don’t know; we never asked).
On July 10th, we received a call in Lethbridge from Marilyn’s mother in Calgary that Marilyn’s father was ill at the Medicine Hat hospital. Mark was with us, and we three drove to see him that day. We hadn’t seen John Coles for years, primarily because it seemed he heeded his son Les’s influence and despised us for our faith, even as Les and his wife, Noreen, despised us. John seemed happy to see Marilyn, but it was also evident he was interested in other things more than in us or in anything we had to offer.
Lloyd Harris came over unannounced with his wife, Marj, to the Benson acreage one day, and casually asked what we believed and what I taught. He seemed to consider what I said somewhat thoughtfully, yet quite briefly, and said, “Well, this isn’t for me.”
Being painfully slow on the uptake as usual, it wasn’t until much later that I realized this visit had far more weighing in the balance than it appeared; what seemed so casual was crucial. However, I know that unless the Lord gives, we have nothing. I can only trust Him to give me what is needed at any time, be it awareness, fitting words to speak, attitude, or anything else.
I’ve learned that at no time are Christians ever saviors in their own right or power.
Not that it necessarily matters, but there have been many instances when I didn’t realize something momentous was happening. Such situations often appeared casual and insignificant. Here was Lloyd, examining what was before him, and I didn’t realize what was happening. Again, every encounter we have is significant. When or how do we wake up to realize the ever-present importance of all things around us?
In the mid to late 80’s, I had a vision of many people in a hospital, wounded, in casts, bound in bandages, several of them missing limbs or badly maimed. Lois had been responsible for the damage of many.
I had another vision of a brutish muscular, hairy forearm, backhanding truth. It represented Lois’ unbelief, her contempt for truth. This was in the mid to late 80’s.
I had this terrible vision in the mid to late 80’s, with horrible words and all. Doubtless, it’s the worst I’ve ever had. I saw Lois at an exhibition of the kind that goes from town to town, otherwise known as a fair or circus. She was an attraction at the fair, a very vile one. She was sitting on a table or open stage of some sort, naked, weighing about 600 pounds, dirty, and looking mischievously around to see what ugly prank she could pull on the audience. Men were gathered all around, curious.
There was a carnival barker, shouting, “Step right up, folks! Come on and see this spectacle, everybody! The meanest, grossest, dirtiest, cruelest creature you ever laid your eyes on! She f—s, she sucks, she’ll do anything! Watch out for her – she’s mean! Anybody who approaches takes his life in his hands! Beware! She f—s, she sucks. Step right up, folks, and take your chances!”
Coarse, vulgar language? Yes. From above? Yes. God doesn’t mince words. He tells it like it is. However, I’ve never heard anything else like it from Him, before or since.
I don’t recall when this began, but perhaps in 1985 Marilyn and I would drive to Strathmore, a little over 100 miles away, to meet the Bensons at the halfway point between Lethbridge and Stettler. We met in a park once or twice, in a Lutheran church once, and at Poor Norman’s Restaurant a few times. We would visit for several hours and go back home.
Around this time, Lois had this dream and related it to us: “Jason, Mark, Trevor, and I were at the top of a steep hill. The hill was basically gravel and we began to slide down the hill. Jason was swept away, but the rest of us seemed to be okay. I said to the boys: ‘Trust in the Lord.’”
She also had a dream in which they were driving a car, they turned a sharp corner, a door flew open, and Jason tumbled out while all others remained safe.
With both of these dreams, I recall Lois later changing them and remembering that Jason was rescued. It’s amazing and unsettling how our minds will lead us to believe and remember what we want, contrary to the facts.
I’ve heard famous writers say one can never write a true autobiography, because we can’t accurately remember things from so long ago. I have to agree with that. They go so far as to condemn such past records as lies, however. And with that, I disagree, for three reasons: One, I’m not trying to deceive; two, memories surely have some value and should be able to be recorded to the best of one’s abilities; and three, while I don’t recall all the details accurately, the general information by principle and how those events affected me, according to my feelings and reactions, right or wrong, are what I record. Those are accurate to a significant, and hopefully useful, extent.
Besides, when it comes to prophecies, dreams, and visions from God, as well as what I consider to be significant spiritual encounters and experiences, I’ve kept journals and tried to record as much detail as possible when these things came. This accomplished two things: I have the record, and though I no longer have many of those records, I’m persuaded that my concentrated attention on them while recording served to etch them into my memory to ensure a reasonable degree of accuracy.
What are memories for, if not to recount and to teach others by our experiences?
In one of these many years, perhaps around this time, I was praying and said to the Lord, “Whatever is Your will, I’m willing to do or to be, as it pleases You.” I had learned that God is over both good and evil, creating both; by Him all things were made, by Him do they consist, and He does all things according to the counsel of His will.
A strange thought then occurred to me, and I had to ask myself: Did I really mean that prayer? If God is in charge of everything, both good and evil, then am I prepared to be the villain in His economy of things? Am I prepared to be anti-Christ? I thought of Satan who presented himself with the sons of God in Heaven in Job 1 and 2. If God so willed, was I willing to be on Satan’s side? The thought was moving, perhaps scary. Then I said, “Lord, I wouldn’t want or choose this, but if it is Your will, so be it.”
I wondered, “Am I condemning myself for even thinking, much less saying, such a thing?” Yet how could I be speaking the truth to Him, saying I would do or be anything for Him, if I wasn’t willing to be an evil servant in His grand scheme of things?
The time would come when I truly wondered if I hadn’t fulfilled that offer in serving evil.
On October 11, 1985, two things happened, which rather overwhelmed me. It seemed that little was happening most of the time, then suddenly we had two major events at once. Paul called from Albuquerque, saying he and Kandis Cooke, a girl professing faith in Christ, whom he had met at the local laundromat, and whom we had spoken to, with him, a few times, were going to get married. He said, “We’re getting married today. Is that okay?”
My reaction was one of, “I’m tired of fighting off marriage bids with Paul.” I believe Marilyn and I also asked the Lord for His will in this matter and received to tell him to do it. I said, “Go for it.” Paul and Kandi married; Paul later told us he very shortly tasted the bitterness of his foolishness.
Paul records a dream he had around this time: “I was with Victor and Marilyn in a park-like setting. As we walked along, I saw a wild boar coming straight at me, not at them. It seemed to have jumped a fence, and it came to attack me. That was the end of the dream.
After I married Kandi, I found myself in a terrible situation with a person impossible to reason with. Victor informed me that Kandi was that boar, and like a heat-seeking missile, she found and ‘attacked’ me. My sin had found me out.”
However, as Marilyn and I were praying concerning Paul and Kandi, the Lord told me that the fault was with Paul, not Kandi. I look back as I write and say the boar was within Paul, the condition of his heart. It seemed a spirit had control of him in matters of marriage, driving him to any woman handy.
That same day, as I was sitting in the kitchen at Laval Court, I heard the words, “I turn a heart whichever way I will.” Half an hour later, the phone rang. I answered and a voice on the line said, “Hello, Victor, this is Archie.”
“Archie who?” I asked.
“Archie, your brother.”
I nearly fell off my stool! “Archie? Where are you?” I asked. (The last time we talked was in January or February of 1980 in Winnipeg when they left us to go to Toronto.)
He told me they had just arrived in Lethbridge and were downtown at a payphone. He said the Lord had commanded him to come to Lethbridge and learn from me.
After the many evil experiences we had with them over the past several years – the betrayals, lies, unpredictability, false accusations, irresponsibility, moodiness, and all, I wasn’t about to let them into my home, or have any more to do with them, without praying first. I asked him to give me a number to call him back.
Marilyn and I prayed, “Lord, what do we do? I don’t want to have another round with them, not at all. Unless You make it clear to us that we should receive them, I’m not interested.”
The Lord replied, “This time they’ll make it. ”
Marilyn and I each heard that twice, independently, from what I recall. I called Archie back and said, “Come.”
Within half an hour, they were in front of our home.