PART FIVE – Moon River to Harvest Haven (cont.)
It came to my ears one day that the Van de Merwes had made a remark to others about my being a “peeping Tom.” I was shocked. How was I a peeping Tom? Why would they say such a thing? Then we heard it came from Joanna Arnoldussen next door. Again, the question: Why?
In those days, I didn’t usually have it in me to pursue a matter to the person responsible. I thought it was more or less my Christian duty to suffer these things quietly, and indeed, I believe it was; it wasn’t my time to confront these matters and wouldn’t be for years – not that one should pursue them as a rule.
Marilyn and I pondered and prayed about the situation as to how this notion could have originated. It occurred to us that we bird watched with our binoculars periodically, focusing on some birds in the large poplars between the Arnoldussens and us (our homes were about 30 meters apart). They had a bathroom off the rear entrance to their home, the window of which faced in our direction. They must have seen us using the binoculars in their direction and assumed we were spying on them.
Someone once said it isn’t enough to be right; one must appear to be right. I’ve often wondered, “How can one watch every move he makes so even appearances aren’t construed as wrong?” The answer to that question is, “One can’t avoid appearances altogether. People will see what they wish to see and not necessarily what is there. It is the perspective and motive of the observer that determines what is seen. We don’t see with our eyes, but with our minds.” Appearing to be right is an impossible task, not that we shouldn’t try to present ourselves as we ought to be.
Elbert Hubbard said, “Never explain – your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway.”
Though it seemed this rumor evaporated into thin air, we would see it rear its ugly head after many years.
Ever since we were married, Marilyn suffered intense menstrual cramps. Sometime in 1988-1990, I believe, she was in great pain, doubled up and writhing on the floor. We prayed; I asked the Lord what was happening and why. A Word came to me, “Compensation.” I thought something was being corrected in Marilyn’s system and left it at that. What would be coming never entered our minds; we didn’t expect it in our wildest dreams.
As I was weeding the lawn one day in 1989 or 1990 (or perhaps later), I was wondering if we could get Archie a home. I heard the Lord say, “You’ll be buying them a home.” Little did I know how it would happen and where it would lead us.
A few homes away from us lived another Netherlands Reform family, Jake and Hanny Van Liere. They had several children. The eldest boy was Quin. He was looking for work, so I offered him the job of weeding dandelions out of our lawn by hand – something he scorned, having the attitude of, “Why aren’t you using 2,4-D?”
As with most people, they had no problem taking the quick, easy chemical way, using herbicides and pesticides in their yards. Though they were religious, the natural environment meant nothing at all to them.
Quin and his younger brother, John, were less than respectful toward us, to put it mildly. John once mockingly remarked, when watching me dig out dandelions, that perhaps they would soon see us cutting the lawn with scissors. Joking is one thing, which I don’t mind, but mockery is another. That, I mind.
Often the kids would go by mocking as I weeded. I knew their parents also knew I weeded by hand. Jake, their father, was the typical cynic, whose job was to let everyone know how pious and wise he was, while others simply didn’t measure up because they didn’t go to his church or at least have the same general, Calvinistic doctrinal mentality. Not all, but many Dutch Reform people we’ve met have been so self-righteous and contemptuous of others.
Update August 13, 2016: Victor hears from Quin Van Liere.
So often we’ve seen professing Christians ignore the basics of life on earth. The saying holds true: “They’re so Heavenly-minded, they’re no earthly good.” Not that most Reform people are Heavenly-minded; they don’t have a clue about Heaven.
Of course, there are many who are “so earthly-minded, they’re no Heavenly good.” I think that saying would suit them better. Frankly, being so scornful of those who don’t believe as they do, it doesn’t seem they’re much good for either world.
Why is it we find hippies, New Agers, environmentalists, Buddhists, and other religious and philosophical peoples caring about the environment, natural health care, organic food production and consumption, and recycling, while most nominal Christians disdain those principles along with those who try to live by them? How is it these others, whom Christians don’t believe have faith in or reverence for God, care more for God’s creation and fellow man than most professing Christians do?
How is it those who profess faith in a good, clean, holy God are so reckless and careless, indulging in extravagant, wasteful, and destructive lifestyles against His creation? Just who do they think they are? Why are they so willingly ignorant, irresponsible, and… unholy?
I’ll tell you why. They simply don’t believe as they presume, profess, or pretend. They worship a god made in their own image and call it “Jesus Christ.” They couldn’t care less about their Creator or their neighbor. And when someone makes an honest effort to stand against chemical pollution and destruction of the environment, these “Christians” don’t give credit where credit is due; they don’t even remain neutral. They give no credit or honor to those who don’t believe or follow their “Christian” doctrine or ways of worship, though these others are trying to live by sound, wholesome principles.
Many nominal Christians, especially Reform people, mock and scorn others, because they believe they’re the righteous chosen of God, appointed to have dominion over the earth. They presume to do as they please because they’re predestinated to go to Heaven, though they serve the destroyer in devastating God’s earth in their ignorance and criminal negligence.
They honestly believe, on the other hand, that all others who care about the quality of the environment will go to hell for all eternity because they weren’t predestined to have God’s favor and to believe and “belong” as they do. Talk about self-righteousness! Speak of an eye not being single! Speak of rank hypocrisy! Oh, we have Pharisees today, broods of vipers; indeed, we do.
So why would God have unbelievers, who are predestined for eternal damnation, stand up and try to protect His creation while others chosen for eternal bliss do as they please, destroying what He, Who is Love, created? Talk about a wakeup shakeup coming for these religious vermin.
Here’s what God says about their attitude towards His creation:
“And the twenty-four elders sitting before God on their thrones, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We thank You, O Lord God Almighty, Who are, and Who was, and Who is coming, because You took Your great power and reigned. And the nations were full of wrath, and Your wrath came, and the time of the judging of the dead, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to the ones fearing Your Name, to the small and to the great, and to destroy those destroying the earth” (Revelation 11:16-18 MKJV).
Particle – The Price of Hypocrisy
The price of hypocrisy is a dear one.
Jake Van Liere has a debilitating disease. It doesn’t occur to him the wrath of God is on him for his attitude and spirit. To try to say anything to him is an open invitation to be scoffed. As Solomon says:
“Never correct conceited people; they will hate you for it. But if you correct the wise, they will respect you” (Proverbs 9:8 GNB).
“Any who love knowledge want to be told when they are wrong. It is stupid to hate being corrected” (Proverbs 12:1 GNB).
“It’s a school of hard knocks for those who leave God’s path, a dead-end street for those who hate God’s rules” (Proverbs 15:10 MSG).
How can these people presume physical death will usher their scornful spirits into the Presence of a Holy God and His saints and angels? Why not assume they can walk into His dining room with human feces all over their shoes, clothing, hands, and faces?
If I have to leave this earth for an eternal home with such companions or neighbors, send me to a place quite opposite, which I suppose would be hell – or would it be Heaven?
One day I was musing about what it would be like to have a son. I wasn’t wishing for one; I was simply briefly wondering. Before Marilyn and I were married, a doctor informed us Marilyn wouldn’t be able to have children. In all our sixteen years of marriage, we never desired children.
One day, the Lord spoke to me saying, “I will show you what I have done for you.” He then prepared us to take a trip back to Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the provinces of our spiritual roots and infancy. There we would revisit old acquaintances, none of which continued with us in the way the Lord had led us; indeed, they faulted us. We set out October 9th, 1990, heading to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
The first person we called on was Dave Grier. The last time we had seen Dave was in the fall of 1976 when he returned to his and our home in Prince Albert for some personal belongings. This was some weeks after the prophecy I had spoken to him, whereby he was “delivered over to the destroyer for the destruction of the flesh.” After the prophecy, he joined himself to Mount Zion Christian Center, led by co-pastors Bill Kellers and Dave Roberts, to which Mickey and Lynn had returned when leaving us months before Dave did.
Dave Grier was now married, with a few children. He had married a member of Mount Zion. Almost the entire church of nearly a thousand had been comprised of singles – a peculiar thing. Dave began to tell us what happened with them and Mount Zion. Bill Kellers and Dave Roberts were found out to be homosexuals. This blew their church sky high.
Suddenly, close to a thousand young congregants were on the street, many shocked and disillusioned. Bill and Dave went back to the States. Many of the congregation married one another (sad to say that today I must add: “males with females”) and returned to their former churches, or scattered to other churches, and some quit church attendance altogether.
We asked Dave and his wife about Mickey and Lynn Patrick. They said they occasionally heard from them; they were now living in Regina. We purposed, Lord willing, to visit Mickey and Lynn, as well.
Dave Grier’s wife was former Ultra Orthodox. She rejoined the Ultra Orthodox Church with Dave, and Dave became a member in good standing. The church was very pleased with him, and he was so pleased with their being pleased with him. I suddenly remembered how Dave had always been a man-pleaser.
Few churches are greater or more elaborate in ritual and form than the Orthodox. Dave had been taken into the deepest, darkest recesses of nominal Christendom. Indeed, he had been delivered over to the destroyer, the prince of darkness and of the gates of hell, even as I had prophesied over him fourteen years earlier.
I marveled as we sat there and heard all these things. I recalled how God had kept us from Mount Zion, in spite of Dave’s enthusiastic participation there and his critical judgment of our “legalism,” and in spite of Mickey’s urgings to us to join them, lest we should “fall into the vicious delusion of the enemy.”
We recalled how, after we trusted God’s direction in 1977 away from the thriving and lively Mount Zion, the supposed “move of God,” He revealed to us Kellers and Roberts were beasts. This was years before the congregants found out their secret.
As I shared these things with Dave and reminded him of the prophecy and of things I had said to him fourteen years earlier, he was visibly unsettled. His wife was alarmed and broke out in loud protests. Suddenly, I was silent.
Why didn’t we have anything more to say? Why couldn’t we plead or refute or respond somehow in a positive way for their sakes? I don’t know, except I had no hope of change for them, and I wasn’t given anything more to say.
When Dave’s wife broke out with alarm and contention, I decided our visit was over. Without saying anything more, I got up and motioned to Marilyn we were leaving. We left without a word. I don’t know that I’ve ever done such a thing before or since.
I then had a vision of a bucket full of slops, rotting, breaking down. I knew it was Dave, and that the process wasn’t complete. We needed to leave things as they were.
One more thing: As Dave sat in his sofa chair, I saw at his feet on the carpet an accumulation of nail clippings.
I met Nelson and Cylvia Reimer at the Alliance Church just after I was converted in 1973. They were among my first casual Christian acquaintances. In my spiritual youth, I saw them as carnal and worldly, but nonetheless, I assumed they were participating members of the church. To my surprise, I discovered they had never tithed, something I believed was an essential duty of all Christians. They told us they had just begun tithing and were quite excited about it.
I had things to tell them. I shared what the Lord had taught us about the church systems and false doctrines. I shared about Billy Graham, not because I was out to belittle him, but because he was constantly brought up by evangelicals as a godly man, particularly when I would talk about the Holy Spirit and the gifts. “Well, Billy Graham doesn’t speak in tongues or believe in those things!” they would protest.
While Cylvia was apparently excited to hear the things I was telling them, Nelson soon became scornful and belligerent. “Let’s get a front-end loader and haul it away!” he boisterously and repeatedly mocked, figuratively referring to what I was saying as “manure.”
Marilyn received that nothing more needed to be said, that they would receive what we had to say. I fell for her words at the moment and withdrew any more words for Nelson. In later years I came to believe she was speaking out of fear of conflict, not by revelation. We moved on from there to visit others.
Jake Bergen had been an elder under Henry Blackaby at Faith Baptist Church. We called and met with him at a restaurant. There he related to us how the church grew for a while, but after Henry left, the church began to deteriorate, losing its numbers.
He told us that before Henry left, he had legally obtained personal ownership of the parsonage owned by Faith Baptist, which was reserved for their pastor. Henry sold it, pocketed the money, and Faith Baptist was now without a parsonage. We were surprised to hear this of Henry, but at the same time, we weren’t surprised. Jake later left Faith Baptist and was resigned to failure, a bitter and defeated man.
I had hoped for something more from Jake, but it wasn’t there. He didn’t seem interested in what was happening with us and wasn’t open to receiving anything. It was a gray scenario, contrasting to a time sixteen years earlier when there had seemed to be something of more spiritual worth in Jake. I realized we were blind to spiritual realities before receiving the Spirit of God and now, with some spiritual maturity, we discerned how Jake always was. The change hadn’t occurred with him, so much as with us.
Ken and June Fowler were drawn into the Faith Baptist Church when Marilyn and I were there in 1974. Ken had serious health problems, then and now. I recalled how he started out a skeptic, but somehow a light was turned on and he was suddenly exuberant about the things of God. He had appreciated a sermon I preached on the Beatitudes, a sermon Henry didn’t appreciate, seeing I wasn’t preaching his understanding, but one I had received by revelation in prayer.
On this trip, we found out the Fowlers had dropped out of Faith Baptist some time before Henry Blackaby left. Apparently Ken had been ill and nobody came to visit them from the church. Sometime later, the church came to their home canvassing for money. That did it for the Fowlers. They were highly offended, not without cause.
As we visited, the Fowlers didn’t seem to remember us very well, though sixteen years prior, we had been rather well acquainted. Their memories had faded, and they were preoccupied with their own little world and problems. There wasn’t the warmth and hospitality anymore. They were poor in spirit and pocket, bitter, ill, cynical of many things, and their house was desolate. Perhaps one positive thing was that their children, Rick and Debbie, were reportedly doing well in their occupations.
I tried to reason with the Fowlers, pointing to the Lord, encouraging them to give Him thanks in all things and to recognize He was in control of everything. I told them there was no call to be blaming anyone for their circumstances. They wouldn’t listen. Again, we were helpless to help.
I hoped for them to share something with us in their poverty. In sharing, I believed they would receive. They wouldn’t share what little they had, as the widow shared her last meal with Elijah. We wondered if we should give them something, but weren’t free to do so. We had to leave with sadness. The harlot, Mystery Babylon, the lady of counterfeit Christianity, had devastated another family, though they would have to bear their own responsibility.
Whether we heard of other members of Faith Baptist from the Fowlers or Jake Bergen, I don’t recall, but we found out Larry Sveinbjornson had died. He was the fellow who had been angry with me because, as an aside, I condemned smoking in a sermon (a treasured vice of his). He also attacked Marilyn, to whom Henry teasingly passed Larry’s cigarettes. Larry died in his thirties or forties. I don’t recall how.
As you may recall, Len and Ruth Koster were the first people we spoke to the night we prayed and received the Spirit. When we told them of it, they reacted in fear, rejecting out of hand what we were saying. We learned Len died of a massive heart attack. He had been a heavy man.
Hilda Pirie, one of my first acquaintances in my new Christian life at the Alliance Church in 1973, sold her large house, where she had supported herself with boarders and roomers, and moved to a smaller old house and was quite alone. Her irreligious husband, Jack, a recovering alcoholic, had died. Now she was old and frail in health, with apparently few to take care of her needs. As was her habit, she asked me to make some minor repairs or adjustments while we were there, which I gladly did for her.
Hilda had always been very religious. From the time I first met her, she had “Christian” literature, pictures, and religious paraphernalia littering her entire home. We now saw the fruits of her religion, an unenviable desolation. How much more darkness would we be witnessing? It was a veritable visit to hell – so sad; yet we marveled at what God was laying out before us.
Perhaps only months before we visited Hilda, a dog had viciously attacked her, sinking its teeth into her backside as she tried to escape over a fence. She called on Dr. Lorne Rabuka to treat her. We didn’t wonder why all these things befell her. Her religion wasn’t of faith, but of carnal effort, not of God’s righteousness, but her own. I supposed, however, many in the Alliance Church and other professing believers would have deemed her to be a godly woman of faith.
We left another person in desolation. With all these people, we had tried to share in 1975 and 1976 about receiving the Holy Spirit and how they needed to repent of religious formality and works, but none believed us. They thought we were deceived.
I don’t recall who informed us of the Hlewkas, whether it was Hilda Pirie or Abe Friesen, but we found out Walter’s back problems had returned with a vengeance, and we possibly heard he needed or had surgery. If he had surgery, it didn’t solve his problem. As well, his children turned to drugs and crime, one or more of his sons serving time.
We decided to take a drive by the Alliance Church. The place was closed, but from the road we saw one man standing at a side door near the back of the building. Who should the man be of hundreds of people, but Walter Hlewka. He was overweight, and his spiritual countenance was one of defeat, depression, and misery. It was another sad picture of desolation. Lord, this was a sad tour we were taking.
The tour reminded me of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol wherein the ghosts took Ebenezer Scrooge to visit his dark, miserly past. However, we weren’t being condemned, but rather informed of how others had chosen their ways against the Lord.
Wally didn’t see us, and we weren’t led to stop and talk to him. Several times years before, he and his wife had refused to have anything to do with us. If they wished to get in touch with us, they would have done so. We were seeing that none of our trip was for ministry, though we tried on occasion with no satisfaction. We drove away, sadly marveling at these sights and reports, one after another.
We paid a visit to Willard and Sheila Ahenakew. In 1975, we had baptized Sheila in the North Saskatchewan River outside Prince Albert and tried to counsel her to come out of the church systems. Instead, she became actively involved with the Pentecostal church in Prince Albert. Willard, who had wanted nothing to do with Christianity, was proselytized and became a member there, as well.
By the way, Willard was an excellent aboriginal artist.
Willard and Sheila told us the tragic tale of their son. He was struck by necrotizing fasciitis, called the “flesh-eating disease.” A sizeable portion of the side of his body had been eaten away.
We had surely learned “the curse causeless does not come.” Seeing they professed faith in Christ, I asked them if they knew why this tragedy happened. They were visibly puzzled, as if to say, “How should one know why these things happen?” I asked them if they had asked the Lord why it happened.
“Well, we prayed and the church prayed with us.”
“But did the Lord tell you what was happening and why?”
They admitted they hadn’t heard anything.
“Do you not believe you can, perhaps should, know?” I asked.
“Well, some things are not meant for us to know, I suppose. We may find out when we go to be with the Lord,” Sheila replied.
This was the typical, prevalent erroneous, unbelieving thinking of nominal Christian churchianity. No wonder the Lord had called us out of it. We needed deliverance and cleansing from such darkness. Having tried to bring Sheila out, and failing to do so, she and her family were suffering the fruits of false doctrine and religion; they were partakers of the plagues of Mystery Babylon the Great (Revelation 18:4-5).
I prayed with them and asked the Lord why they were suffering this tragedy. Almost as soon as I asked, I was reminded of an event in 1976 I had completely forgotten about – the day their son was dancing and jumping irreligiously, showing off while I was singing songs unto the Lord. It was something for which Sheila didn’t restrain or rebuke her son, laughing about it instead. I knew I had the answer.
When I told them what I had received, they didn’t believe me. Likely, they didn’t want to, especially as parents responsible for their child having suffered so. We had to leave soon, but before we left town entirely, I phoned and talked to Willard and told him he needed to come out of the church systems, not following his wife, but the Lord.
Sheila was listening on an extension and didn’t like what I was saying. I think she assumed I was “whispering” behind her back or attacking her, which I wasn’t. I was telling Willard what needed to be done, for all their sakes. At least for the time, there was no indication they accepted, much less acted upon, what I said to them by revelation. Tragedy would continue.
We would hear more of Willard’s artwork and have another opportunity many years later to communicate with them.
We called Abe Friesen and were invited to his home for dinner at Whispering Pines, north of Prince Albert. Abe had been one of the first to talk to me about the Lord in 1972 when I was still searching while working for Homes Canada. He was an elder at the Alliance Church and Homes Canada’s casual furnace repairman.
I recall giving him some rather obstinate arguments during those days against faith in Jesus Christ. Abe had patiently borne with me. Shortly after, in February of 1973, George Lynn came to town to service mobile homes on my sales lot and led me to the Lord.
Abe was also one of those who hadn’t believed us about receiving the Holy Spirit in 1975.
I was now surprised Abe claimed to have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. It sounded like they had reconsidered over the years what had happened to us, coming around to believing what we had been saying. However, it didn’t witness with us Abe had truly received the Spirit, and nothing in his life had changed.
I was also surprised when he asked us to pray for his wife, Helen. We stopped to consider before the Lord and I don’t recall our being free to pray for her, at least not for healing; I couldn’t lay hands on her, and it didn’t occur to me to call them to confession of sin and repentance. They didn’t tell us what her ailment was; just that she wasn’t well. We would find out years later what her ailment was.
In spite of the problems in their midst pointing to a lack of God’s blessing, Abe appeared quite confident – rather arrogant, I would say. He wasn’t rude, but he acted in full control and was rather dictatorial with his household, particularly with their adopted native son (assuming he was adopted).
Abe’s aged mother was also there. I had the impression she was the architect of her sons’ – Abe’s and Dick’s – religious ways. Again, we were leaving another dark and desolate house. Religion had done its awful work with bitter results.
Abe suggested we get in touch with Dick, his brother, who was living in Saskatoon. We decided we would do that. Meanwhile, we went to see…