I met the Jesus People
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Jesus Revolution: I met the Jesus People
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TIME Magazine, June 21, 1971
By Ron Burnett, a Staff Reporter on the Townsville Daily Bulletin, who went to Seattle to join the delivery flight of the first Qantas jumbo jet, the Boeing 747B. He wrote three articles for September 1-3, 1971.
Scores of hippie-type youngsters frequently embraced me at a theatre in an American city recently. They sang in rock style about Jesus Christ – not as a Superstar, but as a Saviour. They invited me to a “love feast” – but by the time it happened I would be Australia-bound in the Qantas super jet, the Boeing 747B. I rubbed shoulders with “drug freaks”, sex devotees and dropouts as they pushed forward to embrace a new life. For four never-to-be-forgotten hours in Seattle, USA, I was caught up in a revolution. It happened when, following a chance encounter in a Seattle street, …
The Jesus People
I should have been at a cocktail party in Seattle’s swank Hotel Olympic. I suppose it was discourteous to my hosts, the Boeing Company – but I didn’t mean it that way.
Seven hours earlier, in a lunchtime scroll through downtown Seattle, two girls, long-haired, long-frocked and bare-footed, had proffered a leaflet. I took one. It was beautifully printed, with a central motif of the risen Jesus Christ. There was a caption: “A CELEBRATION OF REURRECTION AND LIFE – at Moore theatre, Seattle.”
“Will you come?” asked one of the girls, a strikingly pretty blond.
“I might,” I replied non-committedly.
That night I went to the Boeing Company’s cocktail party in the Hotel Olympic’s sumptuous Georgian Room. But that earlier invitation kept nagging at my mind.
After five minutes I excused myself and asked a taxi driver to take me to the Moore Theatre, which turned out to be seven blocks away. I alighted from the cab just before eight o’clock.
And that’s how I came to be at a Jesus People rock festival.
There were small groups of long-haired, bare-footed people on the sidewalk. They fitted my conception of hippies.
But something was different.
Their faces glowed with a remarkable radiance – and, without exception, they carried Bibles.
But their clothes, their hair, their beards set them a world apart from me. They were of another culture. For fully three minutes I was afraid to approach them.
Timidly, I approached three of them, and introduced myself. I told them I was from Australia and that I loved Jesus.
The effect was startling – like the utterance of a magic password. Each of them embraced me warmly and expressed praise to God.
Quickly the word spread. Others gathered and embraced me as naturally as if I were a long-lost brother – and indeed they called me “Brother”.
This was the start of a fantastic experience – a never-to-be-forgotten four hours with the Jesus People, the movement that’s taking America by storm.
These are the young people, largely of the Hippie culture, who were immersed, many of them, in the drug and sex culture – or lost in escapism – or hung up on revolution – or were just plain drop-outs.
Now, these members of the drop-out generation were embroiled in a revolution of a different kind – THE JESUS REVOLUTION. By the thousands, they are forsaking drugs, sex, violence and human vegetation. They say they have found the secret and the reality of the life and love in Jesus Christ. They speak of being “unhung” from the past, through lives linked up permanently and experientially with the very life of God – without the aid of any artificial stimulants, pills or medication.”
| THE JESUS REVOLUTION – “GREATEST”
AMSTERDAM, August 31, 1971 (A.A.P. Reuter)
Dr Billy Graham has said here that the Jesus Revolution in the United States supported by tens of thousands of Hippies, is the greatest movement America has ever known.
“The Jesus Children … go out to preach the Gospel in the slums, the ghettos, theatres, and even the underground railway … this is taking place in America today,” the American evangelist said.
The Hippies who supported the movement had rejected drugs and were studying the teachings of Christ, he said. Dr Graham was speaking at the opening of the weekend of a seven-day European Congress for Evangelism attended by 1,200 delegates from 35 countries.
He said the church, which had always overcome critical situations in the past, was at present going through its greatest crisis in 400 years. Forces within the churches were undermining the Gospel, he added.
Typical was the cry which came from one brother: “I was a homosexual, but Jesus set me free!” And the testimony of a wife: “We were saved! He (her husband) changed, and it’s getting better all the time.” …
The Jesus People love to “rap” (talk) about Jesus. Better than a rap is a “heavy” rap. (“Heavy means real profound,” one girl told me. “Heavy hits you in the heart. It really does something inside of you.”)
And they major on “heavy Bible drill” (intensive Bible study).
The Jesus People see themselves – and many conventional churchmen see them this way too – as the “shock troops” of “now Christianity … a spearheading force for the evangelisation of the world.”
They claim that Jesus is the answer not only to personal “hang-ups”, but to the hang-ups of the whole world.
They showed no evidence of despising the conventional churches – one, indeed, acknowledged that he had been “saved through the preaching of a straight minister.” And a Jesus People’s “decision” card has a space in which to enter “Church attending.” There are reports, too, of church young people’s groups caught up in the Jesus People fervour, and of home Bible-study groups of adults multiplying. …
But I gained the impression from this Seattle contact that the Jesus People “saved” from the Hippie culture are not flocking to the churches. They have their own meeting houses, and they regard their ministry as an outward thrust into the very heart of the community. But they welcome support from the churches, and indeed believe that churches which do not emulate their outreach will be “left behind”.
A heavy weight of the thrust is into the culture from which many of the Jesus People came – the “junkies”, the sex devotees, the drop-outs, the escapists, the revolutionaries, the no-hopers. But the Jesus Movement is also said to have swept many a university campus, and the Jesus People do not hesitate to address the message of Jesus and His love to people of fundamentally different cultures and age groups.
My own experience was convincing. Hippie-style boys and girls, many still in their teens, embraced me fervently, without a shred of reserve – me in the most conservative of plain dark grey suits, a short haircut, and more than double the age of many of them.
There was no culture gap … no generation gap.
And the outreach across cultural boundaries was reflected, too, in “The Truth”. This is the JESUS PEOPLE PAPER …
The Jesus People Paper carried testimonies by two top-line entertainers, Johnny Cash and Jeremy Spencer.
It told of the transformation of editor-publisher David Abraham in San Francisco. Abraham had published the mass circulation drug culture paper, “The Oracle”, in San Francisco. It featured sex, drugs, anarchy, Eastern religion and “eye-poppingly explicit photos” … But David Abraham was converted to Christ. He transferred all rights to his sex-peddling paper to a San Francisco commune of the Jesus People. He installed a former junkie and heroin dealer, Chris D’Allessandra, as editor. The paper is still called “The Oracle”, but “now it peddles Christ and salvation”, – and its circulation has jumped from 20,000 to 100,000.
The Jesus People Paper in Seattle featured the 12,000 decisions for Christ at a Billy Graham crusade in McCormack, and quoted the evangelist’s declaration that “Christ is the living God … He can fill the void in your heart. He can give purpose and meaning to your life.”
Just how substantial or enduring is the Jesus Revolution?
Some say it’s a fad.
Others believe it’s a movement of the Spirit of God, stirring the young people of a “lost” generation; and that the churches must embrace it and nurture it.
Some say it’s emotionally excessive, too theologically superficial, and wide open to heresy.
Others say the Jesus Movement has both strengths and weaknesses, and that it is unwise at this point either to commend wholeheartedly or to condemn.
Many prefer to reserve their judgement.
All this reporter can say is that … he met the Jesus People … He saw evidence of transformed lives, and the keynotes he heard were love, peace and joy – in the context of a startling and unprecedented religious revolution.
Under the heading, “Tacoma Meets the King”, the Jesus People Paper reported the amazing outcome of a seven-day Jesus People musical festival in Tacoma, south of Seattle, in July.
“Five hundred young people actually met Jesus … Several heroin addicts were instantaneously cured … Scores of young people were baptised in water … A ‘heavily sedated’ longhair finally decided that his life was more than just 60 years to blow. He threw his dope to a dumbfounded policeman and said that he was free.
“THE KING IS JESUS CHRIST,” the article explained. “This does not mean a form of religion, a philosophy of life, some theological brainburst, or a moral standard that is impossible to live up to. We aren’t talking about a way of life, we’re talking about life itself. We mean that Jesus Christ is alive today and that you can have a personal relationship with Him. Without this relationship, all philosophies, religions, drugs, and spiritual enlightenment are just more dust on a pile of decaying humanity. Only when you know the love of Jesus can you say without doubt that you’ve tasted life and it was good for living.” …
I learnt a little about the Jesus People coffee houses, with their distinctive Bible connections, dotting the land – for example:
House of Amos
House of Caleb
Earthen Vessel Coffeehouse
I AM Coffeehouse.
One may read on their signboards invitations such as the one in front of the House of Amos:
“STOP BY ANY TIME TO RAP, READ AND ENJOY GOD.”
I MET THE JESUS PEOPLE – Part 2
CONVICTED OF SIN – on 30 Tabs of Acid
A YOUNG GIRL’S STORY ON A SEATTLE SIDWEALK
As I settled into my fascinating evening with the Jesus People, I had no difficulty in appreciating why journals of international repute have devoted many pages of prime space to this “extraordinary religious revolution” (as “Time” called it).
Or why Australia’s Rev. Alan Walker, just back from the U.S., referred to the Jesus Revolution as “the most startling development on the religious scene” … or why Billy Graham in Amsterdam last weekend described it as “the greatest movement America has ever known.”
I spent my first half hour with them on that Seattle sidewalk, outside the Moore Theatre. I asked questions – and my Jesus People friends, with utter frankness, told me stories of reclamation from futility and despair. …
I talked first with 19-year old David Potter, of Tacoma, who has been a “Jesus People” for eight months.
“I got saved at a rock festival in Portland, Oregon,” David said.
I asked David if he had been a drug user.
“I pushed drugs, and I took drugs,” he told me – “acid (LSD), mescaline, cocaine, speed – something like stay-awake pills; it’s concentrated, and you really get ripped out. It felt great. It was a release from worries and responsibilities.”
But not, as David discovered, the key to reality.
Eventually he “started running into the Jesus People” in California. Moving up the coast, he found himself at the Portland rock festival, with the Jesus People. He wondered whether what they were saying about this person named Jesus was real, or a fantasy. They said He was alive, and that He was love.
“But the way I actually got saved was when a straight minister got up on stage and said, ‘I want you to listen. I want to share out of my heart. I want to share my Jesus. He’s life, and He’s love.’
“That was heavy,” David said.
“I had a preconceived idea about Christianity. It was all regulations – you can’t do this, you can’t do that.
“But this guy, when he rapped, he laid it down. Christianity is peace within, peace with my God.
“Now I know what Christianity is about. All you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart. I did, and I FELT THE POWER OF GOD come down. It was like a vacuum cleaner going through my body.
“It was just real heavy. I was in the middle of all those people and just got saved!”
David said that God led him to a Christian camp, where he “got into the Word of God” – or, as the Jesus People repeatedly call it, “heavy Bible drill.”
Was it a passing phenomenon?
David was definite enough. “After nearly a year, the Lord Jesus is better and more real every day,” he said.
He told me that God led him into a coffee house ministry in Tacoma.
“We reach out directly to the long-hairs,” he said. “I present Jesus Christ in such a way that people don’t feel they’re being forced into it. It’s something you can’t force on people. It’s a real heavy thing when you’re rapping about Jesus.”
David reckoned that about 65 per cent of the Jesus People had been taking drugs, but had given them up to follow Jesus.
Several Jesus People estimated that about 70 per cent of the Jesus People reclaimed from drugs never returned to the practice. They said this was in contrast to the two per cent drug cures achieved by Government efforts.
A YOUNG MAN told how, having embarked on drug-taking, he went to the Catacombs, a Christian coffee house in Seattle.
“The people started telling me about Jesus – how real He is, and how beautiful life is,” he said.
“They invited me to the House of Caleb for dinner. I could see these Christians had something that I just didn’t have. I could sense it.
“Then they asked me to Calvary Temple. I was curious – I wondered what they had. I was getting restless, and when the altar call was made I got up and went down on my knees and asked for forgiveness. And I wept. After it was all over I just felt so beautiful. The Holy Spirit came down on me. It was so wonderful.”
Twenty-year-old MIKE BARD has also taken drugs. He told me, “I didn’t know Jesus could be so exciting. I got saved three months ago.”
I asked Mike if he had a job.
“I work with the Jesus People Army,” he said. That’s my job – going out to tell people about Christ. I go back to all my lost people and tell them what Jesus has to offer – and I tell them what He has done in my life. About 10 people have come over and eight have been saved.
Seventeen-year-old VALERIE ARENDS took up the story. She described her experience of being saved. “It was just like lifting a great burden off my shoulders. You can feel the weight lifting. I felt I was floating.”
“We have rock bands,” Valerie explained. “They sing shout Jesus Christ, and about God the Father, and about the Holy Spirit. They just let it be known. They put it in modern music that will reach the kids of today, because today’s kids don’t want things of the past. They want what’s right now – and the Bible says that Jesus was, and is, and shall be.
“They want Jesus now! They want someone who’s still as beautiful today as ever He was.”
I had gone to the Moore Theatre with a prejudice against rock music in a Christian religious setting. What I saw and heard changed my mind. It was impossible not to be impressed by the rock musicians’ deep sense of reverence as they played and sang about the love of Jesus; their faces radiant – devoid of the sensuous atmosphere that one might normally associate with rock bands.
There was no hint of the “Jesus Christ Superstar” idiom. And I thought it significant that the Jesus People Paper carried this paragraph by Billy Graham: “While the rock opera (‘Jesus Christ Superstar’) is supposedly based on the Bible, it lacks a clear compelling testimony of Scripture to the person of Jesus Christ. Over and over a chorus asks, ‘Who are you?’ and the opera does not supply the answer.”
The Jesus People themselves are not hesitant about shouting the answer – “Jesus is Saviour!”
Next, I talked to BECKY BARR, a warm-natured 23-year-old blonde who told me with face aglow, “I’ve been saved about four months – praise the Lord.”
Then Becky told her astonishing story.
“I Was convicted of sin on 30 tabs of acid,” she said.
“I just got a handful, and I don’t know just how many I stuck in my mouth.”
Becky had found life meaningless and hopeless. She had sought release in an “acid” trip.
“But it was horrible,” Becky said. “I was really scared. I thought I was going to die. I actually thought I was going to hell.
“The person I was with turned into the devil. For a couple of weeks I could see the devil. He kept coming after me.”
“And I kept seeing snakes. It was a sickening thing.”
She went to hospital, and ran away. Then, in Berkley, California, she kept hearing people say, “Jesus loves you.” She saw the same message written on walls.
Once more she took drugs, but felt horrid. She cried, “God, if you’re there, hear me.”
“I felt that God was just something out there, all ready to get you.” Becky said. “So I tried to get up and run away.”
“Then I had a sense of someone laying down his life. That’s Jesus. I didn’t know it then.”
Becky went to Seattle – and there was this message again, “Jesus loves you”, chalked on the sidewalk. Someone invited her to a revivao meeting. She felt the Holy Spirit “just fill that place with love”. But she resisted.
Becky told how she kept praying – “But then I just got crazy again.
“One night I thought I had to burn myself up. But I couldn’t do it. …
“I cried out, ‘Jesus is in my heart.’ And I was all right.”
Becky was led to “a guy’s house”. He invited her to church. There she poured out her heart: “Well, Jesus, if You really are the truth, I’m sold! I want it. I’ve messed up my life, and if you can straighten it out, I want you. I just can’t do it anymore.”
“Praise God. He’s real,” Becky said. I just kept on praying and praying. And all of a sudden the horrible snakes went away. There was just peace.
“My whole life was an ugly story,” Becky Barr finished. “But the only thing that’s beautiful is Jesus – and Jesus is mine.”
Mike Bard took up the theme. “I’ve found what people are looking for,” said Mike. “I have it, and there’s no way I’m ever going to give it up.”
I asked Mike to be more explicit. Just what were people looking for?
“What people really need,” this earnest and joyful young man told me, “is peace and joy and love. They want a oneness. They find it only in Jesus. That’s all I can say right now. There are no worries because you take everything to the Lord. Your life is in God’s hands, and He’s going to take care of you – eternally.”
Mike said that the conventional churches could learn something from the Jesus Movement.
“Many have already learnt,” he said. “Many more support field churches. We fellowship with them.
THESE ARE THE CHURCHES THAT ARE MOVING WITH GOD.
THE CHURCHES THAT ARE NOT DOING THIS ARE GOING TO BE LEFT BEHIND.”
As more Jesus People flowed into the Theatre, I asked my exciting new friends, “Who organised this rock festival?”
“The Holy Spirit,” Mike Bard said. “He organises everything.”
“I’ll tell you how the Holy Spirit set this up,” Mike said in reply to my further questioning. “We didn’t have any money when we rented this theatre. But we did it in faith, and we prayed, and the day we had to write the cheque, six hundred dollars came in – the amount we needed.
“We prayed for food, too, because we were running really short. Then all of a sudden, money came in for food. Last night we ate roast beef!”
I learnt, too, that the Jesus People needed a festival headquarters. They said that the Holy Spirit moved – and a Seattle gentleman gave them a three-storey mansion for the purpose.
And the Jesus People Paper! “We pay $950 to get each monthly issue printed,” Mike said, and we don’t know where the cost comes from.”
When I remarked anew on the absence of any obvious sign of organisation, Mike explained, “The reason it’s so unorganised is because it’s not an organisation. It’s not a business: it’s the body of Christ.
“People look at us as if we’re kind of goofy – but the Holy Spirit is the organiser. For example, six people, working independently on the paper, found when they came together that they all had the same theme. That’s the Holy Spirit at work.
“Wherever Jesus People meet, they’re printing newspapers,” Mike continued. “They’re telling about Jesus on the street corners. We’re speaking to whoever the Lord leads us to. We want to speak to the younger kids, but at times I’ve had real heavy raps with adults – and they’ve been really convicted.”
I MET THE JESUS PEOPLE – Part 3
AN EXBODYGRUARD OF THE HEAD BLACK PANTHER PLAYED REVERENT GOSPEL ROCK AT A JESUS PEOPLE HAPPENING. I SAW AND HEARD IT IN SEATTLE. IT’S PART OF THE FINAL ARTICLE IN A SERIES OF THREE, DESCRIBING HOW “I MET THE JESUS PEOPLE.”
“I’M FOR REVOLUTION” cried the Jesus People Preacher Girl
As I ‘rapped’ with the Jesus People on the Seattle sidewalk. a steady stream of people – most of them young, long-haired and bare-footed, but some older and in ‘straight’ dress – flowed into the Moore Theatre.
I entered the lobby. More Jesus People. When they heard I was a newspaper-man from Australia and a Christian, there were fervent embraces. It was uninhibited love.
Mike Bard sat with me in the theatre, which by now held about 2,000 people, with room for hundreds more – and still they came.
Mike told me that the drummer who helped beat out a beautiful and reverent rock gospel melody called “I am your Captain” was an ex-bodyguard of the head Black Panther.
The organist was a graduate of one of the nation’s finest music schools.
The most electrifying (and heart-piercing) feature of the Jesus People rock festival was soon to follow.
A slender, pretty girl, with finely groomed long hair, gowned in what I would call a multi-coloured patchwork polka-dot ankle-length dress, moved to the microphone. With a contagious joy and enthusiasm, she welcomed us to “the fastest growing movement in America, soon the fastest growing movement in the world, the Jesus Movement.”
This was Linda Meissner, founder of the Jesus People Army, publisher of the Jesus People Paper, and Jesus People Preacher extraordinary.
“Give me a J! . . .” cried a radiant Linda – somewhat incheer leader fashion, yet infinitely more profound.
“J” roared the throng.
“Give me an E!” … “E”
“Give me an S!” … “S”
“Give me a U!” … “U”
“Give me an S!” … “S”
“What does that spell?”
“JESUS” – a mighty chorus from 2,000 throats.
“Who is He?” – “JESUS”
“What’s that, you say?” – “JESUS”
“Who’s our Saviour?” – “JESUS”
“Who’s alive right now?” – “JESUS”
“There’s so many Jesus People in Seattle now, it’s not hardly safe for sinners to go into the streets,” the vibrant preacher cried. (A fresh chorus of God-praising phrases). “It’s so beautiful to be part of the heavy Jesus Movement. Don’t give me any of that hog-wash about what’s going to happen 20 years from now. HIS time in now!”
“Tonight, before this festival’s over, there’s going to be hundreds of miracles. If you’ve never seen a real miracle, stick around!”
Expecting a massive response to the Jesus message, Miss Meissner announced there would be a mass baptism on the coming Sunday afternoon.
“Support the good news of Jesus Christ this week-end in Seattle,” she continued. “Go our in Christian warfare, shooting your little guns at peope, ‘I love you, I love you, Ilove you’!” – pointing an imaginary gun at the audience, the words rapping from her lips in staccato fashion. “Our ammunition is God’s Word.” …
Linda said that God had given them “a fantastic huge Jesus Movement headquarters” (the three storey mansion). God had also moved in the provision of kitchens, meeting places, clothing and food.
With emergency kitchens, said Linda, the Jeus People Army would be out feeding the poor. …
“We have the facilities to feed the poor,” the preacher girl went on. “Other groups feed them, and that’s beautiful. But the Jesus People can fill them.
She asked for “adult participation” too. In the back was a table where people could “sign up for the Jesus Revolution now”, give their professional or trade services, and become active as Bible teachers and counsellors.
She urged an outreach to high school kids and to the University of Washington. “Let them all know that Jesus Christ is alive.”
Linda Meissner held the audience (and an Australian reporter) captivated as she sang with soulful intensity the Jesus People song –
‘Jesus, Jesus, can I tell you how I feel?
You have given me Your Spirit;
I love you so’
There was an intermission, and a “straight” minister who had earlier joined us took me back-stage, where briefly I met a shining-eyed Linda Meissner.
She told me she was 30. He looked more like 20. She had been “saved since I was 17.”
“Jesus has shown me a vision that He’s going to raise up a Last Day Army of full-time dedicated disciples who will fulfil in this generation the great commission to evangelise the world,” Miss Meissner said.
Linda had been an Iowa farm girl. In college, she heard a challenge by David Wilkerson, gave her life to Christ, and joined Wilkerson’s Teen Challenge in New York City. Later she travelled to Seattle to start Teen Challenge in the north-west. For a time the response was poor. But she “began to pray and seek God, and God opened up the Jesus People Army.”
The “straight” minister was the Rev. David DeMoss, pastor of a church in Tacoma, Washington. His hair-style and dress, like mine, were strictly conventional – but neither of us felt out of place in the warm atmosphere of Jesus People Love.
David DeMoss is enthusiastic about the work of the Jesus People – “but I’m not ducking out of my own church.”
He saw the Jesus People’s Army as “the combat troops” of the “new” Christianity. The indigenous church could be a vital part of the Jesus Revolution. The task of the older generation in the church was to “keep open the limes of supply for the vital young people going into the Christian battle” – “to give faith support, financial support, spiritual support, and to provide the wisdom and understanding of years – the knowledge that comes through experience.
I believe the churches will feel this burden and accept this tole when they see the reality of what’s happening right now – this manifestation of the power of God,” Pastor DeMoss declared.
He said it was love that made the difference. “These kids go out, and they don’t talk love, the live it.” …
“These kids are living it every day, demonstrating it in everything they say and do. That’s what the church has got to come to.”
I hurried back to my seat in the theatre. Linda Meissner had begun to preach. In the Jesus People idiom, it was “heavy”.
“You can carry what banners you want,” Miss Meissner told would-be revolutionaries. “But these are the heaviest words – ‘I am the life” …
“We are on the edge of a precipice – one of the heaviest storms the world has ever seen. Society is struggling for love and happiness. We can feel our whole country cracking at the foundations, and we’re scared. Where can we jump to? What can we cling to? …
“You can say you don’t need God. You may say this Book’s a bunch of garbage – or you can listen to the words of Jesus who says, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ …
“Try Jesus, and your search will be over. It’s the inside of man that needs to be changed.
“That’s why I’m for revolution, because I can’t stand a continuation of ‘business as usual’. I can’t stand the thought of thousands in the streets doping it up, selling their bodies to prostitution, killing themselves, dying of hunger, in pain and sickness – the suffering humanity of the world.
“You may be able to sit comfortably in your room and watch TV, but I can’t stand the thought of so many people on a fast-moving train heading down the track towards the precipice. …
“Will you let the world perish while you chew gum and buy paper dolls? I want to do something.”
The preacher warned that a “head” knowledge of Jesus Christ was futile.
“It has to start from gut level inside” – somehow the term, coming so earnestly from Linda Meissner, did not seem crude. “And you look up and see it’s not a stupid fairy tale. Because you look up and see the cross. And there’s God’s Holy Son bleeding and dying there – dying for you!
“You feel your sins covered with blood … and they’re gone! About 18 tons of garbage and guilt is taken away, ad you can’t help but say His name again – and it’s joy and peace and love.
“And before you know it, you’re just grabbing that brother and sister around you ad saying, ‘I love you’. And you say, ‘I mean it. I have met God’.
“This is the answer for the world. Before you know it, people start loving each other. They bring goods and clothes. In the early Christian church, everybody shared. And they took the good news throughout their world.”
Linda Meissner had spoken of the train heading for the precipice. Now she said, “There’s another train a-comin’. It’s the Gospel Train. And the engineer has conquered death, hell and the grave. His love has conquered history. He not only died on that rugged cross, but He rose again from the dead.
“He’s alive,” she cried triumphantly. “He said, ‘Be of good courage. I’m coming back’.”
She launched into a Jesus People gospel song again. …
“We’ll spread the good news
That God is in our land,
And they’ll know we are Christians by God’s love.”
And from hundreds of throats – “I love you Jesus”.
A sweet girl named Mary Norman sang with haunting sweetness “The Last Supper” – and Linda Meissner invited people to “come to Jesus”.
“Jesus says, ‘Come, the supper’s ready’. ‘No, I’m not worthy’, you say – and besides, I don’t have the money’. And Jesus smiles and says, ‘It’s free.’ It’s supper with the King – and it’s free.”
Linda launched reverently singing “The Lord’s Prayer”. Hundreds of voices rose in unison with hers.
Flourishing a tambourine, she sang a soul-piercing Gospel invitation –
‘Come to Jesus!
Come to Jesus!
Come to Jesus right now!’
“Just pray to Jesus, and you’ll have a Jesus happening,” Linda told them.
By now, dozens of people had poured to the front to have “supper with the King.”
I went with them. The sweep of that moment was irresistible. I didn’t count, but I think more than a hundred stood there, some weeping, some praying, and all praising Jesus.
Then an electrifying moment.
“Jesus loves you. You love Jesus. And you all love each other,” Linda Meissner told the converts. “Now, everybody turn and love the person next to them.”
I was enveloped in the embraces of people with long hair, people with short hair, people in hippie garb, people in “straight” dress, young people, old people. Unashamedly I returned their embraces and echoed the affectionate “I love you” that each poured out on me.
Linda Meissner told the converts they would be counselled by Richard McNair. She described him as a young man who had spent “four years on drugs and scheming against fancy ladies”. He had been saved in gaol. Presently as we sat on the floor in the basement, “Rich” was telling us in warm but gentle tones of the need for daily Bible study “to get strong in the Lord”; for constant prayer; and for fellowship with other Christians.
He handed to each of us a “basic survival kit” containing these emphases.
Elsewhere, hippie-style people (and others too) sat on the floor in groups of three of four, open Bibles in their midst.
As I made ready to leave, I found myself lingering in the foyer of the theatre. I was reluctant to leave my exciting new friends, the Jesus People. And it seemed the reluctance was mutual. There were more embraces, declarations of love, a promise to exchange letters and to pray for each other.
It was after midnight. I prepared, with a twinge of sadness, to walk the seven blocks to my downtown Seattle hotel. The Jesus People would not hear of it. Soon I was sitting with seven of them in a big car, and we rapped” about Jesus as we drove back to the Hotel Olympic.
More embaces. More lingering farewells. I stepped slowly from the car to the sidewalk, turned and waved. Seven sets of arms waved back vigorously. The car pulled slowly away from the kerb. Soon it was lost in the stream of traffic.
My Jesus People had gone.
But they left an unerasable memory.
PS: Comment by Ron Burnett (included in this article in The Jesus Revolution booklet printed in 1972 in Brisbane).
My encounter with the Jesus People in Seattle was exhilarating. Never have I experienced such a tremendous outpouring of warmth and power and love. I truly believe that to me was given the privilege of seeing, hearing, and feeling a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God.
I do believe, too, that whether we be convinced or sceptical of the substance of the Jesus Revolution (I, for one, am convinced), God is saying something to us all through this movement. The message is that God is not limited. Jesus is being exalted as Saviour and Lord, the Son of the living God, in a culture which we as “conventional Christians” probably could never have penetrated. Jesus is being presented in all His love, joy, beauty, majesty and power as the one Way – the one answer to the need of individuals and nations for peace and purpose.
In the Jesus Revolution, revival has happened and is happening in a way that many of us did not expect, among people to whom we least expected it to happen. The Holy Spirit is not limited.
Editorial comment: Note the lasting impact that this movement had in church and community life – from formal to informal dress; from organs and hymn books to bands and screens; from monologues to dynamic encounters.
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Jesus Revolution: I met the Jesus People