I think I was eleven when I was brought to Elden Street. Maybe I was twelve, but I think this took place in 1969; if so, I would've been twelve or thirteen as I was born in 1956. However it is a confirmed fact that I was eleven on the day we moved to Los Angeles in April of 1968, on the very day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated so I must have been older.
So what happened? Oh yeah, I was introduced to the local church for the first time. Of course since the term "local church" was brought to this country by Witness Lee, Christians around the globe use the term now to mean any so called "church" on any corner near to where you live and that's "local." Actually the original the term meant (and should still mean) the gathering of the Christians within a locality, who also live within that locality to be the assembly of the called out ones there.
Of course I was just a dumb kid of about 13 and didn't know all this. The meeting hall of the church in Los Angeles, which is exactly what those Christians called themselves there, was on Elden Street in Los Angeles. My Dad's good friend, Isabell Trudo, whom we had known in Syracuse, N.Y. where I had lived from 1962 till 1968, was in L. A. to visit her sister. Her sister attended the meetings at Elden Street. So because my dad had known and fellowshipped with this sister for years he went to see her and as a result we went to the meeting that Sunday evening.
I did not learn this until many years later but it was during those years (1969-1971) that there was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Elden street and I think I was brought to see that outpouring by the sovereign direction of the Lord of Hosts in 1969(so I guess I would have been about 12 years old). During that time from what I have heard most of the Christians there lived within blocks around that meeting place in a neighborhood and you could hear the praises and the calling on the name of the Lord and the singing from their homes and windows as they walked(!!! how could you beat that arrangement!) to the meeting and echoed back the praises and songs to those in their homes! Of course the meetings started in the homes and on the streets long before they ever got to the meeting place! No wonder they had revival! I think that in reality their meetings never had an end! Now THAT'S the way you and I should have the privilege of living! May the Lord bring back such a day to His people once again. If you read "Revolution" by Gene Edwards, he reveals that that's the way it was in Jerusalem when it all started and that's how God planned our lives to be. Wow! There was a three month period where young people poured into the assembly there and over 300 got saved! Just like that!
Now you have to realize that I had been to many many different kinds of churches as a boy because my father was a minister who preached at many different kinds of churches. He was a special kind of evangelist: one who knocked on doors to win the lost most of the days of his life. Most of his life he had a passion to go to the Jew first as he was a Jew (I guess that makes me half!) and had a burden for the salvation of the Jewish people. All of the organizations he worked with during his life were missions to the unsaved Jewish people. As I said his main thrust was door to door, but to raise support and awareness he would visit many churches and preach to them and share the burden. But though I had seen all kinds of meetings of Christians and get togethers, I had not seen anything like this.
These Christians were alive !!! They were loud, bold, rich, deep, electrifying and aflame!!! I had never seen anything like them. And being young, of course, I was impressed. Were they Pentecostal? No!!!! A thousand times no! But they were even louder than Pentecostals! Yet not wild; they were completely under control. But the strangest thing was to me: all of them spoke. All of them testified, preached, exhorted, admonished, read scripture, called a song, or praised the Lord. Who was their pastor? I never did find out and of course young boy that I was, I never asked. Years later of course I knew that they did not have pastors or believe in them. They believed and seemed to practice the scripture as Paul wrote "every one of you hath a song, hath a teaching, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying" (Building up). Years later, I actually found there to be some real building up amongst these Christians. But back to the story! Hey! I was impressed at 12 or 13 years of age.
Of course, my impression was a lasting one, not just immediate. It was something eternal; part of what I was destined to see in my lifetime on earth. What had HAPPENED??? I visited one of the refreshing times of God's visitation that He has destined at certain times and places during the history of the age of grace. .. .. I saw the Elden Street Revival. From what I gather in years since I walked into the beginning of that time of refreshing. It lasted about three solid years: 1969-1971.
Of course much of this was due to the ministry of Witness Lee, who had been the co-worker and #1 student of Watchman Nee in China, whose ministry and influence in Mainland China, both before and after the Bamboo Curtain fell, has influenced that country more than any other ministry ever has or probably ever will. There are literally millions (estimated at about 100,000,000 or more!!!) born again and in love with the Lord Jesus Christ as the result of this man literally laying down his life for His Lord.
So what was this meeting like? OK. A brother would get up and shout "Lord we love You!" and all 300 or 400 would resound in one accord "Amen!" Then another would pray a sentence and all would resound Amen! He'd pray another phrase and all would resound "Amen!" someone would call out a hymn and after singing it someone would shout out a line from averse of the hymn that impressed their spirit and all the sudden the Lord was knocking at the door of my heart! Of course sometimes 2 or 3 people would stand at the same time and loudly read a verse from the song (the truth and glory to the Lord's praise in the words of the song were so rich such as I had never heard before) and all would Amen again. Then someone would stand and testify and all would listen and later another song, then more verses of the song spoken out. In between all this at times all the attendants would say sometimes in unison sometimes not so much in unison "Oh, Lord Jesus!" or "Lord Jesus" or Oh Lord! Etc. Then, not following the song at all seemingly but totally in line with what the Spirit was proclaiming about 3 or 4 brothers stood up and read Isaiah 9:6 in unison with a thunderous amen following. What I had never seen before was this what they call "popcorn meeting" where a brother stands up and functions in his gift then another stands up and functions in maybe an entirely different gift but in concert and in the flowing of the Spirit for that meeting. What I saw and experienced for the first time was people communicating the Lord Himself to one another through what is sometimes called "The release of the spirit." Here the human spirit of man, containing something of the Spirit of God like something of the Lord's glory, wisdom, honor or His righteousness, etc. seems to release that aspect of Christ and it builds not only individual lives but faith and hope and love towards our Lord corporately. Instead of sharing mere doctrine or teaching with one another they were literally sharing Christ Himself and presenting Him to one another!!
Later on they passed a plate with bread around as they were having what is known as "the Lord's Table" meeting that night. Then a big cup came around which kind of choked me cause it had real wine (they call it "communion wine") in it. Of course the singing at this point seemed to follow the theme of the Lord's death and resurrection. But what was really happening? They were sharing and eating the Christ they had experienced, got filled with and were overflowing with during that week or what ever and came together to pour out what was ready to burst from within! He could not be contained! He must overflow!
There was only one problem with all of this. I got a headache! Cause the guy behind me when they all said amen over and over had a sledgehammer voice that seemed to hit me in the back of the head over and over and .. well, ouch! But I was impressed.
That was my introduction to what some people call "the local church." Years later I learned that what they had been doing was pray-reading the scripture (the amen-ing can help or maybe not sometimes) and calling upon the name of the Lord(Oh, Lord Jesus, etc.) which are 2 practices which they do more than anything else. However, I would not say the first century Christians could read or even had Bibles!! So, is the local church practice the ultimate experience of the Lord!!??? NO!! THERE IS ALWAYS MORE!!! But, c'mon! How you gonna tell a kid that? I would just say at this point in the story so far that as to their experience of Christ we must NEVER get stuck in a rut concerning ANY kind of practice and become inflexible. NEVER!
The conclusion I have come to in regard of having passed through what I have passed through on earth up to this point and especially in regard to this experience is this: there is a vast difference between today's evil, degenerated, insipid, dull, boring, supercilious, poor practice of the faith of Christ and that which was originally delivered to the saints by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. There seems to be a vast canyon between the two. And it is this: it seems to me that when most Christians assemble together today most of them "come to receive" of the Lord and be ministered to. They come "empty, to be filled" so to speak. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians concerning their Body-Life experience reveals the opposite!! And that was written to the ecclesia that had the worst problems of any ecclesia that Paul ever wrote to: they did not come together with the priority of receiving uppermost BUT GIVING out from their overflowing abundance of their wells of living water was their priority. THEY COULDN'T WAIT OR THEY WERE GONNA BURST AND BUST OUT WITH THE OVERFLOWING OF ETERNAL LIFE!!!!