It was before I joined the "church" in Los Angeles that I signed the dotted line to join the Navy in December of 1982. After raising my right hand and swearing in at the Los Angeles processing facility, I was immediately placed on the "delayed entry program" since they can only take so many at a time into boot camp. I was destined to enter boot camp 8 months later in August of '83. Even though I had sworn in because the Lord directed me due to my unemployment situation, it seems as soon as I had entered into the church life situation in meeting hall #2 there in Panorama City, He turned my joblessness around and blessed me. The door opened for me to get into carpet cleaning work. So I went and bought a car for a measly $100! That car took me thousands of miles all over Los Angeles County and beyond in my carpet cleaning adventures during those 8 months (until just the right time 2 weeks and 2 days before I was to enter into boot camp!) and I began to make money hand over foot! It seemed I could feel the blessing of the Lord upon me day after day as He granted me favor with those whom I worked with.I soon discovered that meeting with "The church in Los Angeles" as it's called was an awesome experience into the nearness of Christ and the Lord gave me health and prospered me even as my soul prospered. Well, between the time of my swearing into the Navy and my joining the local church I moved in with my parents. Even though I started to make enough money to get a place to live, I didn't dare because I knew that in a short time I'd be departing for another life and wind up who knows where? So during this time I did not have much togetherness with my wife and little daughter. As a result we had high hopes for a new life at my new duty station, wherever that would be.Soon the carpet cleaning business got so good and I was doing so well at it that I began to doubt if it really was the will of God and if He had indeed spoken to me to join the Navy. It seemed to me that if I joined I would not be making as much money as I was then. I soon began to think about if there was a way to back out. The Lord's financial blessing just seemed to increase more and more. But now as I look back all the things I'm writing about concerning the lost keys would never have happened had I not joined the Navy and financial blessing is not necessarily the criteria of whether you are in the Lord's will or not. Some of the persons who have lived who lived right next to the hem of Jesus garments were rich, awesomely rich! And some were super poor!Another factor that was in my mind was that I was enjoying the meetings at the local church so much and growing there in the Lord in a way that I had never done before. How and why could the Lord be moving me out of such a situation? And even though His words were true about taking me to another locality to start an ecclesia, there are other factors. Those words did come to me and I can see the reason for it now these many years later. BUT I surely was not ready to raise up genuine church life, but then again who is these days?I wish I had seen then what I see now, but even the meeting life I was in at that time though it was the most awesome thing I had ever seen and it was probably the most God could do for me at the time to bring me into the light : there was still an element of formalism and ritual still even at the assembly in Los Angeles(though their form was far more living and lively than the rest of today's Christianity). However when the Lord moved me to South Carolina we had nothing but meetings in the homes and were much more informal and without many of the trappings of some of the local church meetings. It is amazing how this all took place at the same time frame that the old system in the local church meetings was starting to be changed! I look back on it now and am so amazed. And even though I see that brother Gene Edwards is more clear about how to get back to the reality that the first century had by starting from scratch all over again, NOT trying to change something that already exists, I still have to compare these two men. I do not think Gene Edwards could have done the awesome thing Witness Lee did: i. e. to change the system of one man speaking and the rest listening to everyone functioning and speaking in the meetings: ON SUNDAY MORNING OF ALL TIMES!!! Gene would have been wiser had he been at the helm of that movement to abandon the whole thing and start over. But to change the system the way brother Lee did has never been done by any man upon the face of this earth!!! Not even a Watchman Nee could pull that off and believe me, he tried to in the 1940's but he just couldn't do it. However if such a one as Witness Lee had seen as clearly as brother Gene Edwards his success would have been even much more than it was! And what a success it was!As I read some of the messages in the last 2 years (1998 and 1999) that he spoke during those years that Witness moved back to Taiwan to start "The New Way" in 1984 through 1987 and in reading one message in particular, I was so astounded at the greatness and golden godliness of the inwrought humility of Christ in Witness Lee that I cried and cried and cried before the Lord in reading that message. Although literally thousands were being saved and baptized in their bathtubs, 7000 home meetings were taking place, the mutual speaking of every member began to be a reality and even the big meetings in the meeting halls (the church in Taipei had 22 meeting halls at that time and some of them were sky scrapers) began to have more actual functioning of even the little members of Christ's Body, etc.
Witness knew he had not hit the mark!! He spoke these words: "there is still among us the deadness of Sardis and the Lukewarmness of Laidocea." And then he admitted humbly that he did not know how to get through! He admitted that he did not see clearly. He admitted that the battle was somewhat too fierce and raging and the necessity of so much prayer warfare proved something was amiss! He admitted that he didn't have all the answers! He admitted that possibly he needed to fire all the elders! But he wasn't clear about it! He admitted that maybe the answer was to close all the meeting halls and just have home meetings! But he wasn't clear about it! It was obvious to me that he did not see as clearly as he would have liked to have seen as to the divine blueprint for building.Now: Enter Stage Right : The Sovereign HAND OF GOD !!!! Exactly 2 weeks and 2 days before I was to enter boot camp my old car that had made me so much money hand over foot, my measly $100 car STOPPED!!! It just stopped dead in the middle of a busy intersection and would not move! As traffic got stopped behind me and I was sitting there in that suddenly dead car, the Sovereign Lord spoke: "I'm giving you two weeks vacation before you go to boot camp!" Well! I guess so! I came to find out that my rear wheel drive was a goner. Some guys helped me pull it over to a gas station as it died right next to a gas station where I could park it. The guys there checked it out and told me next day that the best thing to do was graduate it to a junk yard.The night it broke down I got a phone call from someone whom I had never met. He was an acquaintance of a sister in Christ whom we had known and had lived somewhat near to my parents for and who had been a good friend of my mom's for many years. Anyway this young brother was also, like me, about to join the Navy and was due to report for boot camp in only 2 days! Little did we know of course that you get set with the group of guys on the very day you enter and form a company on that very day. But how were we to know? Well here we were: two brothers who had never seen one another praying over the phone that we would get a group together to fellowship and pray to help us through the rough times in boot camp. He was to enter in two days. Me? Two weeks and two days. The problem is I forgot his name after that.After I got through the first day in boot camp I vaguely thought of this brother but immediately dismissed it out of my mind as I realized that not only had I forgotten his name but he was in a company formed 2 weeks before mine.I soon found out that life in boot camp was rough to say the least. It sure helps to have a firm grip on God. I found I needed the comfort of the Holy Spirit quite often. Also the Lord's supernatural healing hand got my twisted pain - wrenched muscles out of trouble miraculously! Of course it was also a big help to have some Christian fellowship during those rare times when we even had a little bit of time to talk with our fellow "ship-mates." The thing that troubled me the most (I was not the only one who regarded this as the biggest problem) was the fear of having to endure yet even more separation from my wife. You see, my compatriots and I had joined the Navy and were becoming sailors and what do sailors do? Go to sea. And fresh out of boot camp you'll get assigned to a ship 9 out of 10 times. Now most ships go to sea quite a bit and this does not make for family togetherness as much as you'd like. In fact, more than any other service the Navy is a true sacrifice for your country and for our freedom and unfortunately that sacrifice is family time.The enemy would bring thoughts to my mind of being assigned to a ship that was due to go on West Pak (a six-month cruise across half the earth) as soon as I reported aboard. I prayed that God would send me to shore duty 1st but rarely does that happen. I would actually hear in my head the sounds of the winds howling out at sea during the lonely nights underway. Later in life I could testify that these groaning, howling and creaking sounds of a ship at night are pretty accurate to what I had imagined or possibly what the devil was conjuring up in my mind.After about 3 weeks into boot camp about four "set-backs" from another company were sent to join our company due to test failures. I think a couple of these guys were Christians and I started to meet with them in the head (bathroom) after taps (though it was breaking the rules) for prayer and fellowship. One guy I remember in particular: he was a short red-haired guy and I remember meeting with him quite often and our conversations concerning our faith taught me quite an interesting lesson about always trusting in God not in man. Even as God said "don't trust even in a brother" and somewhere else it is written: "there is a Friend who sticketh closer than a brother."They would let us go to the various chapels on Sunday as certain Chaplains there represented certain faiths. This was one of the rare times we ever got away to do something different and not so structured and controlled. Now as I was wont to play Christian praise songs on the keyboards be it piano or organ, I found an organ at one chapel. So I asked the Chaplain if I could accompany his worship time as I could follow along most songs by ear and knew many by heart, etc. It seemed that an anointing was upon my hands that particular morning and the singing was especially prolonged for more time than was usually spent. The short red-haired brother who I'd recently met and had been fellowshipping with was especially blessed by the Lord during this time and was lifting his hands up in praise and worship sort of basking in the presence of Christ. While praising and thanking the Lord in such a way, he began to thank Him for me and said "Lord, thank you for (he then used my last name, which I do not use on this site because I do not welcome people finding me by ugly phone calls, however you can email me and say anything if you wish)"
. It was then that he said that the Lord reminded him of something and when He reminded him the chills and goose bumps just went up and down his spine. The Lord told Him: "don't you remember who that brother is? That's Kevin (my last name again). That's the brother you prayed with 2 nights before you left for boot camp over the phone! I answered your prayer without you even realizing it!!" Zap!!!!! He was feeling the Lord's presence strongly and really began to praise Him!After the "service" was over he came up to me and told me of course and as he did: ZAP!!! The goose pimples were all over me too! You see we had both forgotten each other's names. (Oh, his name? Parker was his last name. I do not at this time remember his first name anymore) And both of us had figured we'd never meet anyway because of the way people get set in companies and you hardly ever get to talk with anyone in another company. But when he failed that reading class it was the sovereignty of God that he would be set back exactly 2 weeks to our company and guess who was in the company that arrived in San Diego exactly 2 weeks after he did? Me, of course! So God had answered our prayer and we had been fellowshipping in the head after hours in answer to prayer with out our even knowing it!Of course one of the things I fellowshipped with him about was this desire I had to be with my wife and to spend a year with her as the scripture says in the book of Numbers. It says that when a man takes a new wife he is not to go to the fields or go out to war right away etc. But he is to spend that first year of marriage at home to "cheer the wife which he has taken." Now I was telling Parker that I had claimed this as a promise in my prayer before the Lord and he told me that I had better be prepared to accept the will of the Lord no matter what it might be as sometimes it is not always what we would have chosen or what we would like and that God might be sending me to a ship. "You don't know" he said. "that might be the will of the Lord."Well, of course this "fellowship" did not help my faith any (actually it did in the long run in a negative sort of way when you think of how it weaned me off of man to God). Nor did it help assuage my fears or keep me from imagining the howling winds in the dark of night during those rough days. But I have learned since then that when something is in scripture such as that word concerning the first year of marriage, that that written word is a direct declaration of the will of God and you can bank on it and as shaky as I felt inside and as real as my fears seemed to be
still, I had put my faith up to Him based on His word and took it as a promise and I did believe though my faith was somewhat shaky. " codebase="./" width="72" height="24">
The lesson learned is that even a brother whom God has brought your way has to have his words tested by the scriptures and as a brother can be wrong! So was he wrong? Yes, he was wrong for the most part. I WAS sent to a ship. But this particular ship hardly ever went out to sea!Before this conversation with Parker my wife had sent me a card in the mail which quoted the verse: "Behold. How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity" and thank the Lord this was a remembrance for me during the conversation with Parker and helped my faith enough to even disagree with the brother. OK I know I'm not one to hardly agree with brothers on anything and this hardly seems right when I just quoted a verse about dwelling with them in unity but that unity had better be UNITY WITH GOD AND HIS PURPOSE not something else! And if unity with my brother (s) is out of sync with God then it is Disunity with God and that is always serious.
In the next chapter the miracle of clear light and direction goes on about how my existing faith was solidified and how the flowing of the building up in the Body played the biggest part into building my faith!
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Copyright © 2001 by Kevin “the NorthWest”. Non-commercial use permitted.
Kevin “the NorthWest”