PART FIVE – Moon River to Harvest Haven (cont.)
We left Winnipeg and headed for Portage La Prairie. There I phoned Bert and Marie Towers. Bert answered. I asked them if they remembered us. “Oh, we sure do remember you, all right! You’re the guy who prophesied Brent wouldn’t be getting married and said it would be a sign Branham was a false prophet. Well, our son is happily married, with a family now.”
I had forgotten the prophecy. There was no point in saying any more. I signed off and we continued on our way. That prophecy had often made me wonder. I regretted speaking it.
When we reached the outskirts of Regina, Saskatchewan, we called Mickey and Lynn Patrick, who drove to where we were. Why didn’t they invite us to their home? Their daughter, Rena, was still living with them, now about 15 or 16. They also had a son, who was younger.
We went to a restaurant for supper. We weren’t hungry, but they wanted to eat. Mickey had a beer and I believe I had one with him (not sure). I picked up the bill (Mickey was never a generous one).
In our visit, I asked Mickey about Mount Zion Christian Center and Bill Kellers and Dave Roberts. The Patricks were rather sheepish about the whole affair, still seeming to give Bill and Dave some benefit of doubt. More likely, they were too proud to admit they had been deceived. Mickey and Lynn had worshipped them – those men had been their heroes.
They admitted some things, however. Bill and Dave had made up stories of a miracle of multiplying food for a gathering and of Dave receiving a gift of instant ability to play piano. Bill had falsely claimed he was a US Marine, in some special force. These falsehoods and others were discovered along with the fact they were homosexuals.
I confessed to Mickey that his warning in 1976 of our “falling into the vicious delusion of the enemy” if we didn’t join a “Spirit-filled church” troubled me for some time until I resolved to believe the Lord. Now we could see the blessings of the path we had maintained, while their “Spirit-filled church” was scattered to the four winds, along with their spiritual leaders. So who fell into the vicious delusion of the enemy?
I asked him why he had sent that message to me. He told me he did so under Bill and Dave’s influence. They had also said to Mickey of us, “If they are true sheep, they will follow you here; if not, they won’t.” Mickey never accepted culpability for anything. It was all someone else’s doing or fault. Are not people victims of liars for a reason?
What was presently happening in the Patricks’ personal lives? They weren’t talking a whole lot about the Lord – in fact, not at all. I don’t think they were fellowshipping with anyone in the Christian context. Mickey was still working for SaskPower. I believe Lynn was working somewhere, as well.
They told us a slight amount about their daughter Rena, whom we hadn’t seen since she was a toddler, and their son, who was born after we parted from them. It sounded like they were having some discipline problems with their children, though they likely wouldn’t have seen it that way. They weren’t forthcoming with us.
Years later, I would get a call from Mickey, and what he would tell me would be tragic, surprising, yet not surprising at all.
From Regina, we headed to Swift Current and looked up Tim Friesen, one of my first Christian friends in 1973. Nelson Reimer told us Tim was pastoring a church in Swift Current. We found Tim and Verna living in a very humble, small old house with poor furnishings. Tim was surprised to see me, but gladly welcomed us in. Verna wasn’t home (I believe she may have been at work).
Tim had gained substantial weight, perhaps 60 pounds or more. They had a child or two. And, as Nelson had said, Tim was pastoring a small, poor interdenominational or nondenominational church in a building he drove us to see, which was nearing condemnation.
As we visited, I asked Tim some questions from the past, but not anything too embarrassing, I don’t think. I could have asked him about his Homes Canada liaison with the Rosicrucian saleswoman in Chilliwack, BC, but I didn’t. I doubt very much he would know I knew about it.
Tim seemed to have a slight fixation on Billy Graham being a lukewarm Christian, promoting someone else’s likening of Graham to Jehoshaphat, who lived a compromising life. I went further, contending Billy Graham wasn’t a Christian at all, not having the Spirit, walking in great darkness and deceiving many. Tim wasn’t willing to go that far. As far as I was concerned, what I was saying about Billy applied to Tim in terms of his unbelief toward God.
I found Tim’s soul and spirit as desolate and dreary as their old home and church building. He had nothing but an empty profession of faith and religiosity after all those years. We didn’t get anywhere in our anticlimactic visit. Marilyn and I knew there was nothing more and soon left for home.
From his library, Tim gave me some books he asked me to return when done with them. I don’t recall what they were, but I found them in error and returned them, along with a letter. He replied by mail with contempt, mockery, and much contradiction. I tried calling him weeks later and received more of the same, though he was scrambling, unable to admit or perhaps even realize he was in darkness.
It’s a peculiar thing how those who need light the most think themselves to be most enlightened. I see he became “Dr.” Tim Friesen, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church and president of Emmanuel Baptist Bible Institute in Moncton, New Brunswick. Their statement of faith is an accurate reflection of the darkness he thinks to be the Light of Jesus Christ.
Tim is no longer there, probably retired. Where in Scripture does one find ministers of God retiring? God’s ministers expire, but they don’t retire.
Throughout the entire trip, we couldn’t impart anything good to anyone, any more than we could when we first knew all those people, not because we didn’t have something to give, but because they were in no state to receive. The Lord didn’t say, “You will be ministering,” or, “Do this or do that,” but, “I will show you what I have done for you.”
We were only observers on the ten- or eleven-day trip. We arrived home, marveling. Indeed, He had shown us; we couldn’t help but be thankful for His mercy and blessing to us. All those we had left behind years ago were prisoners in their unbelief. I am reminded of these words:
“Because you say, I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…” (Revelation 3:17 MKJV).
Marilyn described the trip as a tour through prison, where all the inmates were in their dark, dank cells, languishing, suffering, yet still maintaining their innocence and freedom, having no idea of their distressed state, claiming to know better and refusing true freedom and good food. To and of such, the Lord said:
“For if anyone has a cause at law against you, and you are going with him before the ruler, make an attempt, on the way, to come to an agreement with him, for if you do not, he may take you before the judge and the judge will give you up to the police, and they will put you in prison. I say to you, You will not come out of it till you have made payment to the very last farthing” (Luke 12:58-59 BBE).
We knew we were undeserving of what the Lord had done for us. D.L. Moody once said of a drunk in a gutter, “There but for the grace of God go I.” We could have been with those people!
The dramatic contrast of our lot to that of those who chose to ignore or oppose us was a stark and long-lasting one in our memories. It served to assure us the Lord was indeed with us all the way. How easily we doubt or forget! Perhaps, worse still, how we take for granted God’s great care and blessings!
We arrived home from our trip on October 19th, 1990. Soon after, the Lord said, “I’ve shown you what I’ve done for you. Now I’ll show you what I will do for you.”
What a surprise He had in store!
John Lepp was a craftsman and furniture maker. He had a manufacturing and sales outlet in the Lethbridge industrial area. One day as we drove by, we decided to check out his work; we liked it. We were looking for a coffee and end table different from the usual. With leftover pine logs from our home, John made us furniture to our specs that we have enjoyed ever since.
He also professed faith in Christ and attended Northside Christian Fellowship in Lethbridge. He invited us to church. We decided to go, not that we necessarily expected anything for ourselves, but perhaps there was something we could impart to others.
We met Graham Bretherick, the pastor, who had a degree in psychology and was counseling people along spiritual lines. John wanted us to have a talk with him, hoping, I suppose, we might see the error of our ways. I had told John God had led us out of all organized religion and taught us very differently from what nominal Christianity believed, practiced, and taught. No doubt, John judged we were deceived.
Graham gave us the common arguments and reasonings not founded in God’s truth, but in man’s rationale. He got nowhere with us, and he wasn’t about to receive our “heretical” doctrine that could make him, John, and so many others free. The Lord gives to the humble and withholds from the wise and prudent; those He leaves in pride.
Theirs was just another case in our lives where, while we were despised for the truth called “heresy,” they were the ones preaching heresy, calling it “truth” – the status quo of orthodox Christendom. The experience of our lives has been that there were 450 of them to one of us.
However, it has also been the experience of our lives that eventually there was one of us and none of our adversaries. And as Elijah, we have often been doubting and fearful of the establishment and rulers, even though God has faithfully sustained us in all our needs (1 Kings 18 and 19).
Northside Christian Fellowship was associated with the Toronto Blessing and John Arnott, the founding pastor. They shared similar philosophy, doctrine, and spirit. One evening, Ben Moore (from the US, I believe) was preaching. There were several contradictions in his sermon.
And he claimed to have the “gift” of imparting “holy laughter” to his listeners, a key feature of the Toronto Blessing, which manifestation traces back to Rodney Howard-Browne. After the message, a woman came to talk to Ben and began laughing uncontrollably; she stopped and started again, repeatedly. I wonder who that woman was and what spiritual state she’s in now.
John Lepp’s wife led the singing and praise. What we witnessed was a “go-go girl” one might see in bars, something I frequently saw in the sixties. She was dancing before the congregation, and while there’s nothing wrong with dancing (great if of God), we didn’t receive a witness of goodness. On the contrary, I knew it was quite unclean. This was partially, I believe, what inspired this poem:
Flattery and beauty are very powerful assets at her disposal, and the harlot uses them well. Not only young fools, but many a strong and wise man has been taken captive by her seductive powers. Even Solomon, in the end, yielded his life to her for her promised benefits.
But these benefits are shallow and fleeting, as intense as they can be, and in the end leave one an empty shell, deluded into thinking he’s alive and a chosen servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. In reality he’s a fornicator, at one with the harlot and an enemy of Jesus Christ.
Her powers are awesome
her countenance spellbinding
she touches the stones
their response is instant
they grow excited
and enlarge themselves
she takes hold
gently but firmly
bestowing a pleasure
almost impossible to resist
“Service me and I’ll give
pleasure forever –
refuse me and I’ll crush you.”
an offer hard to refuse
“It is Heaven,” they say
she plays them
in all directions
their substance to the earth
her fame they spread abroad
they tell the news
and become the bearers
of death and destruction
and loving it so.
Moon River, February 15, 1991
In our first visit with John in our home, Marilyn had a prophetic word to speak to him. We don’t recall what she said, but it was a time of her coming out from being a wallflower, remaining silent in visits with others. She had grown to think it wasn’t her place as a woman to be speaking.
While I thought we had a certain understanding regarding women speaking, I don’t know where or how she got her understanding that she shouldn’t speak to others. When she asked to speak to John, she was expecting me to prevent her. I didn’t, and it somewhat surprised her. (She told me this after the event.)
Marilyn’s coming out and speaking forth began the swing of a pendulum from one side to the other within five or six years and a very trying time to be had by all of us.
I looked around and back into our past and found everyone who had withstood or opposed us spiritually suffered consequences. It’s an understatement to say it didn’t go well for people who wouldn’t hear us.
Then I thought of Merv and Muriel Mediwake. Years before, I had spoken to them in Brooks, AB of the place of mothers of young children being in the home, while Muriel pursued a real estate career. I saw them pursuing harlot religion and reveling in it. I spoke against those things.
They also came to be actively involved with Victory Christian Church, which the Lord told me in 1982 was “a witch’s coven.” Yet Muriel flourished in real estate and Merv in his meat processing business in Brooks, AB (Lakeside Feeders). As far as we knew, they suffered absolutely nothing. So I thought, “Well, the Lord knows the hearts. He determines all things.”
I wished neither them nor any others evil; God forbid. In the past, we had enjoyed talking with them and had hoped for better things for them. One day around this time, it came to mind to call them and see how they were doing. I also wanted to apologize to them for volatility on my part. I was sure I appeared to them as a madman on occasions, understandably so.
Muriel informed me Merv was in the hospital. He had developed double pneumonia, and they had to remove his lungs to cleanse them.
How could this call be my own timing? In essence, the Lord was telling me nobody ignores Him by me and escapes accountability.
Still, it seemed I was displaying spiritual immaturity everywhere and with everyone, which bothered me considerably. Lord, when would I wise up and be of true worth in Your sight?
If youth was so important, would we not have been given the wherewith to embrace and enjoy it? But trials and tribulations come as a flood to deliver, teach, and mature us.
Aged wine, how good! Green fruit, how unsatisfactory! Yet the green fruit doesn’t know. It covets its youth, strength, firmness, and expectation of longevity, and it doesn’t care to be consumed. Yes, it much prefers to do the consuming.
Youth needs to know it is there to eventually be consumed, not to consume; it must wait, knowing waiting brings forth something desirable, rather than finding the wait a bother.
Resisting reality, the young one loses sight of meaningfulness and true purpose. Embracing reality, time unveils the substance and beauty of maturity; the once young crosses an unseen bridge and enters a pleasurable and imperishable new youth.
My will, not Thine, be done.
I want it,
I want it my way,
I want it all,
I want it now.
I’m old enough,
I can do it,
I deserve it,
It’s coming to me.
Immaturity is indignant
seeks revenge and
a settling of scores
much in its favor.
It takes only the good,
despising the bad,
not discerning the difference
between the two
or the value of both.
to know better,
to know all,
despising true knowledge
and the paths leading there.
Wisdom is an alien
Folly is embraced
as one’s dear life.
Yet immaturity ends;
whether by wisdom or folly,
Moon River, Feb. 24, 1991
In the first months of 1991, Marilyn began to have some spells of sickness. Over the years, she was very prone to car sickness and overtiredness. This would often give her severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting. She was also quite sensitive to being in the hot sun. Yet the sicknesses she was experiencing now didn’t make sense. We weren’t traveling, overworking, lacking sleep, or exposed to the hot sun.
Her appetite also became voracious, and I became a little alarmed. She was suddenly eating more than I and gaining weight. And I didn’t like losing my diet controller and inspiration. I was the one given to appetite and was depending on her to help me. What were the chances of controlling my weight if I were to lose my drill sergeant?
We agreed Marilyn should regulate her food intake, which she did (I look back and marvel at her discipline in this matter).
And in April of 1991, I wrote another poem….
How many times have I arrived only to discover I was only beginning!
Living with loose ends that seem perpetual is one of the difficult facts of life, especially if those ends weren’t expected to be loose, and most of all, if those loose ends appeared to have the promise of completion, upon which we set our hopes.
As we press on toward the mark of our calling from above, we gradually begin to learn that those things we counted important, achievable, and our destiny were lower rungs on a ladder, only elements of a process – small stuff.
With the process complete in any of its stages, we discover a change in ourselves, and then the elements we once considered so important are removed with our ready consent and replaced with new ones, often without our consent.
The destination is not without, but within. When once the work is done, those outward things we treasured or feared fade away, no longer perceived as desirable, important, or intimidating. That which was is no longer relevant, as a fading flower that falls to the ground. One must come to the sobering truth that the greatest works of men upon earth are entirely vain.
What’s more, we can accomplish and learn as much in the most mundane and simple things of our existence as in what we perceive to be the higher and nobler elements.
Who has the measure? The issue is not one of what we do or how well we do it, but of motive and attitude. There is the key of deliverance from Periphery.
Your subjects going round,
Never but never embracing.
Back and forth
This time, no, next time,
Next time THE time;
Carrots dangling in circumference,
The center obscured without end,
Faithful sentinels posted,
Drawn swords uplifted,
Guarding the Gate of Total Freedom,
The entry of which brings peace
And joy and satisfaction.
To be the destination.
Moon River Estates, April 1991