Jesus Christians.com

Preferred Language:  English | Espanol | Deutsch | Francois | Po Polsku | Easy English

The Journey to L.A.


Jeremy suggested I just watch him for a while, and see if I could spot any differences between his attitude and my own.  So I watched from the side as he distributed.

I noticed he made eye contact with each person to whom he offered a book.  I, on the other hand, had been avoiding eye contact; I feared rejection, and this may have been one reason for my distributing woes. 

I sat and watched a little longer before mustering the courage to try again.  Though I wasn't as fast as Jeremy, things did go better after the break.  I got out about 50 copies of Survivors before we left campus that afternoon, while Jeremy had done about a hundred in the same time.

We walked to the Taco Bell outside campus, where we stopped to have lunch.  There Jeremy introduced me to the ‘cheesy bean and rice’ burrito, a community favorite.  Jesus Christians limited themselves to a $2 food allowance when eating out, the equivalent of an average worker's daily wage in the third world.  The burritos offered good taste and nutrition at a low cost, hence the community's affinity for them.

After lunch, Jeremy and I stopped by a few shops to trade our coins for paper money.  There was a short debate with an atheist whom Jeremy had met at the university, and then it was back to the camper.

We found Reinhard resting there, out of the hot sun.  He offered us a glass of orange Tampico from a carton that he had scored during his distributing stint.  Shoppers in Spanish-speaking areas would often offer food to missionaries as a reward for 'spreading the word'.  

We talked about how the day had gone for each of us, and especially about my first crack at distributing.  Then I climbed up on the bed at the back of the camper to check my email account.  Jeremy started preparing dinner: lentils, vegetables, and hot dogs.  The hot dogs were especially for me since the others were semi-vegetarians.

We spent a few more days there in New Mexico before moving toward Arizona.  The plan was to visit the Grand Canyon on our way back to LA.  But first we needed to do our phantom run.

Jeremy and Reinhard introduced me to the ritual run on Saturday, just before we left Albuquerque.  Our team ran at the local track, across from the university, but we were not just racing against each other.  They called it a 'phantom' run because the final placings would be based on results sent in from members running in different parts of the world during that same week.  Everyone ran two miles, starting at different times depending upon their ability.  Jeremy and I started together, with Reinhard leaving before the two of us.  Assuming the right handicaps had been prescribed, and we all did our best, we should all finish within ten seconds of one another.

My training had always been about speed, and so a two-mile run was not something I was prepared for.  Jeremy finished first, but I was only a short distance behind him, and Reinhard was a few seconds behind me.  Whoever had decided on my starting handicap had done a pretty good job of it.  Fourteen and a half minutes actual time for a two mile run was hardly something to write home about; my endurance, and my enthusiasm for the runs, however, would increase with my time in the group, thus giving me much faster times later.

That Sunday, Reinhard drove towards Arizona while Jeremy and I discussed what I thought of my trial week experience so far.  We also played music as we covered the miles. Jeremy showed me an album from Lauryn Hill which featured a good message.  He had acquired a CD of the MTV sponsored Unplugged album, through a trade for Survivors at one of the universities.  I found it easy to get along with Jeremy, because we had such common tastes.

At a small town on the way, I got out to call home and wish my father a happy birthday.  It was the first of May.  I used a payphone, for fear Sheila would try to track our mobile.  (We later learned that Sheila had already falsely reported me as ‘kidnapped’ to the FBI, a common strategy used by cult-busters to generate hysteria and to force the ‘runaway’ to report to a police station for apprehension.)

Jared answered, and after I wished him a happy birthday, he asked me for my location, just before Sheila snatched the phone away, and took over the conversation.  The way she dominated Jared astonished me.  I could not talk to him for more than a few seconds without her coming in and taking over, even on his birthday.  She needed to control everything.

Sheila repeated Jared's question, but more demandingly this time.  I said I wouldn’t tell her, as I knew she only wanted to disrupt my trial week.  She rattled off paranoid warnings akin to the ones she had been sending via email, and demanded that I "obey my parents" and return home.  I asked to speak with Josh, as I had already heard all that before.  Sheila agreed.

Josh seemed out of it.  He told me that he had used the copy of Survivors that I had left him as toilet tissue to wipe his bottom.  He then proceeded to laugh at me, calling me stupid for leaving home, and saying that he now owned my truck.  He seemed cold, hateful, and detached from reality.  I wondered if he had suffered a set-back.

Reinhard, Jeremy, and I had agreed beforehand to keep the call brief; we knew they would want to drag it out.  If they had more to say, they could say it via email; they obviously were not interested in what I was thinking or experiencing, except as it could be used to stop me.  We would be there in person in just a few days anyway, so there was no point in paying for a long-winded monologue from Sheila or anyone else.

Reinhard and Jeremy explained that the parents of some other members had had similar feelings about the community at the start, before learning to accept their son or daughter's decision.  I prayed that it would be the same with my family.

Jeremy had received a gift card for a pizza and pasta buffet restaurant chain, so we stopped at one in Flagstaff for a huge lunch.  It featured several exquisite dishes: fettuccine alfredo, mango salad, pepperoni pizza, and more.  I began to see that the Jesus Christians didn't just know how to be ‘poor in spirit’; they knew how to enjoy themselves as well.  The community called it learning to ‘abound’ as well as learning to be ‘abased’.  The phrase comes from something the Apostle Paul said in the fourth chapter of Philippians.

After the buffet, we drove to the local Border's bookstore for some leisure reading and relaxation.  Rest days gave us a chance to let our hair down and do whatever we most enjoyed doing.

Jeremy and I spent the day reading, while Reinhard stayed behind in the vehicle to rest and catch up on the budget.  No one in the community could match Reinhard's discipline when it came to jobs.  Even on rest days, he could be found attending to bits of business, in an attempt to get a head start on the next week.  He even had a name for his rest day approach to jobs: resting and running.

On the drive out of Flagstaff that evening we discussed 'bin raiding', something I had first heard about in Bin Raiders, another book written by Dave, which I had read before coming on my trial week.  I wanted to hear first-hand how this worked for Reinhard and Jeremy on a practical level.

Jeremy shared that the community had first started raiding industrial bins out of consideration for Jesus' teaching about being poor in spirit.  They knew that supermarkets threw away tons of good food each day, often for frivolous reasons.  They thought that if they could make use of such food, they could then put the money they would have used to feed themselves, toward helping the poor.  This would allow them to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ (i.e. to be poor in spirit themselves, and to help others who did not have access to all the wealth that they had).

Along the way the community had developed a wider appreciation of just what it was that they were doing.  What they called 'luxury' products (tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate, and tobacco) were a root cause of poverty in several third world countries, because of all the arable farmland taken up to grow those crops.  At the same time, after the crops had been exported to the West, roughly half of them would be wasted for one reason or another anyway, with grocery store throw-outs being one of the biggest sources of that waste.

Because of the profit motive, large landowners in famine-prone countries continued to use land which would have otherwise been used to grow staple foods - like maize, rice, and wheat - to grow luxury ‘cash crops’ instead.  Refusing to buy such products from the supermarket, and ‘rescuing’ them from the trash instead, allowed us to be a part of the solution rather than adding to the problem.  Jeremy explained all this to me during our drive that night.

The theory made sense.  I could see the rationale behind it: Why buy food, when you can find it for free in a trash can, and help the poor/save the environment in the process?  But the question remained:  Could I actually bring myself to do it?

Concerns about what other people would think of me doing such a thing plagued me.  "What if a friend spotted me actually rummaging through bins?"  I realized that such concerns stemmed from fear, and not from faith.  In my mind, I had been won over; but I prayed for faith to get it all into perspective when the time came for me to actually do it.

I'm not likely to forget our Grand Canyon experience.  We arrived in the morning, parked our camper at the back of the parking area, and then walked around for the rest of the day, looking at the sights and admiring the craftsmanship of the Creator.  Jeremy found the park particularly inspiring; he spent several moments alone in scenic spots, soaking it all in like a sponge.

During our walks, Reinhard gave me a set of Bible verse cards to study in my free time.  The cards enabled one to quickly learn key verses, some of them essential for spiritual growth, and others geared toward answering criticisms commonly made of our lifestyle and beliefs.  On one side would be a short phrase describing the verse, along with a simple picture.  On the other side would be the actual verse, and the reference from the Bible for where it could be found.  I studied the cards as we walked, and when we took breaks.

During one of our walks, Jeremy and I discussed nutrition.  He said that he had been a vegetarian early in his adult life, but changed his hard-line stance against meat-eating after joining the community.  In particular, he now felt almost an obligation to eat meat ‘rescued’ from a bin, so that the animal would not have entirely died in vain.  Because he had not done anything to support the meat industry, he did not have any guilt about contributing to the animal's demise.  I enjoyed hearing Jeremy share his beliefs.

Later that evening Reinhard gave me a verse-card quiz.  I got about half of them right - not valedictorian material, but quite good for a beginner, according to Reinhard.  

We resumed our journey the next morning.  Visiting the Grand Canyon had been a very inspiring experience which I would take with me forever.  I emailed Sheila, telling her I planned to be back on Thursday, May 4th.  I could then share in person with her and the others about my experience with the Jesus Christians, and what I wanted to do with my life.

On the drive, I received an intimidating voice message from John, which shook me up.  He yelled through the phone, demanding that I return home immediately, and stop playing games with his mom.  He spoke aggressively throughout, a threatening tone punctuating each word.  I told Jeremy and Reinhard about my concerns that violence might erupt if we spoke in person with my family.  My concerns would later be confirmed to a greater extent than I had ever imagined.

We debated whether to turn up in person.  I had only one day left for my trial week, and I knew I wanted to join.  But John's phone call had troubled me.  If his message was any indication, then what awaited us back home would not be pretty.

Jeremy argued in favor of going.  I think he thought I was hoping to be able to keep a few of my belongings there in case I changed my mind later.  Or maybe he was thinking that I was too chicken to stand up to my parents.  He reminded me of Jesus' admonition to the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor, and cautioned me against being double-minded, something I had been going through for two years before finally making the decision to come out.

Reinhard - he thought outside the box - argued from a different angle.  He thought it okay (considering the circumstances) to make an exception and leave my possessions at home to avoid a scene.  But he said that my relationship with my family was far more important; sharing my decision to join the community in person would be an important step towards fostering good family relations, and showing that I was, in fact, acting like an adult.  I did not share the same conviction.

In the end, we decided on a compromise.  We would go to the house when everyone was away the next morning.  I would use my key to get in, take the rest of my clothes and other items which I had left, and then I could call to let them know about my decision, after driving a safe distance away from the house.

If, however, this plan did not work, then we would go with our first plan, and meet up with them in person.  I could get the remainder of my belongings after introducing Reinhard and Jeremy to my family.  The plan sounded fair enough to me, especially as I assumed the first option would work without incident.

We went to the house the next morning, May 4, at around 10 am.  Like I suspected, everyone had gone for the day, and the house was empty.

Reinhard and Jeremy parked a few blocks away.  I took my key, walked to the house, and tried to get in.  After several unsuccessful attempts, it dawned on me - they had changed the lock.  How odd!  I returned to the vehicle to inform the guys.

Reinhard and Jeremy said that it may have been for the best that the locks had been changed, as that now forced us to meet and share with my family in person.  It could have been a set-up from God to show us His will, Jeremy said.  

For several months by that stage, the U.S. team had been operating as an 'autonomous' team within the Jesus Christians.  What that meant was that neither Dave, Cherry, nor any other leader outside of the U.S. was being consulted about decisions.  In fact, the rest of the larger community was largely ignorant of the issues relating to myself.  This had been part of an experiment to develop more confidence in making decisions for ourselves.  Nevertheless, Dave had, months earlier, cautioned the others when he heard how fearful I was about my parents, to honor my wishes first, since I obviously knew them much better than any of the JCs.  This advice was completely overlooked at this time, and Dave was not consulted further.

We drove from the house to our book storage facility, in Compton, and loaded up with boxes of Survivors for our next outreach.  My trial week ended officially that evening, although I had already made it clear what I wanted to do.

Nevertheless, it was time to officially forsake my possessions in order to complete the initiation process.  Though some of the things I owned remained in the house in Long Beach, nothing could keep me from forsaking the items I had brought with me.  We decided to go ahead with the ‘ceremony’ based on what I had available.

Reinhard brought out my bag of belongings.   We went through each item one by one; they gave me the choice at each step to retract my decision.

I enjoyed the proceedings.  I couldn't help but feel excited, as the significance of the night sunk in.

The whole process took only a few minutes.  I had by this time officially forsaken my material possessions to the Jesus Christians, to be sold and given to the poor.  I now was an official member of the community.

We discussed what to do the next morning.  Because John was my main concern, I suggested we turn up unannounced.  John lived several minutes away; if we came in early enough, I could almost guarantee that neither John nor any of my other relatives would be there.  I suggested we aim to arrive by 7 am.  Sheila, Jared, and Josh would normally be awake by then, and John would usually be sleeping, in his apartment on the other side of Long Beach Poly.  Reinhard and Jeremy both thought my suggestion sounded fine.

I still had concerns about the ensuing confrontation, although I hoped that we could get in and out before John arrived, and no violence would ensue.  My naivety about the situation's intensity proved later to be dead wrong.

Click here to read Part 16 of Joe's Story
Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Jeremy suggested I just watch him for a while, and see if I could spot any differences between his attitude and my own.  So I watched from the side as he distributed.

I noticed he made eye contact with each person to whom he offered a book.  I, on the other hand, had been avoiding eye contact; I feared rejection, and this may have been one reason for my distributing woes. 

I sat and watched a little longer before mustering the courage to try again.  Though I wasn't as fast as Jeremy, things did go better after the break.  I got out about 50 copies of Survivors before we left campus that afternoon, while Jeremy did about a hundred in the same time.

We walked to the Taco Bell outside campus, where we stopped to have lunch.  There Jeremy introduced me to the ‘cheesy bean and rice’ burrito, a community favorite.  Jesus Christians limited themselves to a $2 food allowance when eating out, the equivalent of an average worker's daily wage in the third world.  The burritos offered good taste and nutrition at a low cost, hence the community's affinity for them.

After lunch, Jeremy and I stopped by a few shops to trade our coins for paper money.  There was a short debate with an atheist whom Jeremy had met at the university, and then it was back to the camper.

We found Reinhard resting there, out of the hot sun.  He offered us a glass of orange Tampico from a carton that he had scored during his distributing stint.  Shoppers in Spanish-speaking areas would often offer food to missionaries as a reward for “spreading the word”.  

We talked about how the day had gone for each of us, and especially about my first crack at distributing.  Then I climbed up on the bed at the back of the camper to check my email account.  Jeremy started preparing dinner: lentils, vegetables, and hot dogs.  The hot dogs were especially for me since the others were semi-vegetarians.

We spent a few more days there in New Mexico before moving towards Arizona.  The plan was to visit the Grand Canyon on our way back to LA.  But first we needed to do our phantom run.

Jeremy and Reinhard introduced me to the ritual run on Saturday, just before we left Albuquerque.  Our team ran at the local track, across from the university, but we were not just racing against each other.  They called it a “phantom” run because the final placings would be based on results sent in from members running in different parts of the world that same week.  Everyone ran two miles, starting at different times depending upon their ability.  Jeremy and I started together, with Reinhard leaving before the two of us.  Assuming the right handicaps had been prescribed, and we all did our best, we should all finish within ten seconds of one another.

My training had always been about speed, and so a two-mile run was not something I was prepared for.  Jeremy finished first, but I was only a short distance behind him, and Reinhard was a few seconds behind me.  Whoever had decided on my starting handicap had done a pretty good job of it.  Fourteen and a half minutes actual time for a two mile run was hardly something to write home about; my endurance, and my enthusiasm for the runs, would increase with my time in the group.

That Sunday, Reinhard drove towards Arizona while Jeremy and I discussed what I thought of my trial week experience so far.  We also played music as we covered the miles. Jeremy showed me an album from Lauryn Hill which featured a good message.  He had acquired a CD of MTV sponsored Unplugged album, through a trade for Survivors at one of the universities.  I found it easy to get along with Jeremy, because we had such common tastes.

At a small town on the way, I got out to call home and wish Jared a happy birthday.  It was the first of May.  I used a payphone, for fear Sheila would try to track our mobile.  (We later learned that Sheila had already falsely reported me as ‘kidnapped’ to the FBI, a common strategy used by cult-busters to generate hysteria and to force the ‘runaway’ to report to a police station for apprehension.)

Jared answered, and after I wished him a happy birthday, he asked me for my location, just before Sheila snatched the phone away, and took over the conversation.  The way she dominated Jared astonished me. I could not talk to him for more than a few seconds without her coming in and taking over, even on his birthday.  She needed to control everything.

Sheila repeated Jared's question, but more demandingly this time.  I said I wouldn’t tell her, as I knew she only wanted to disrupt my trial week.  She rattled off paranoid warnings akin to the ones she had been sending via email, and demanded that I ‘obey my parents’ and return home.  I asked to speak with Josh, as I had already heard all that before.  Sheila agreed.

Josh seemed out of it.  He told me that he had used the copy of Survivors that I had left him as toilet tissue to wipe his bottom.  He then proceeded to laugh at me, calling me stupid for leaving home, and saying that he now owned my truck.  He seemed cold, hateful, and detached from reality.  I wondered if he had suffered a set-back.

Reinhard, Jeremy, and I had agreed beforehand to keep the call brief; we knew they would want to drag it out.  If they had more to say, they could say it via email; they obviously were not interested in what I was thinking or experiencing, except as it could be used to stop me.  We would be there in person in just a few days anyway, so there was no point in paying for a long-winded monologue from Sheila or anyone else.

Reinhard and Jeremy explained that the parents of most members had similar feelings about the community at the start, before learning to accept their son or daughter's decision.  I prayed that it would be the same with my family.

Jeremy had received a gift card for a pizza and pasta buffet restaurant chain, so we stopped at one in Flagstaff for a huge lunch.  It featured several exquisite dishes: fettucine alfredo, mango salad, pepperoni pizza, and more.  I began to see that the Jesus Christians didn't just know how to be ‘poor in spirit’; they knew how to enjoy themselves as well.  The community called it learning to ‘abound’ as well as learning to be ‘abased’.  The phrase comes from something the Apostle Paul said in the fourth chapter of Philippians.

After the buffet, we drove to the local Border's bookstore for some leisure reading and relaxation.  Rest days gave us a chance to let our hair down and do whatever we most enjoyed doing.

Jeremy and I spent the day reading, while Reinhard stayed behind in the vehicle to rest and catch up on the budget.  No one in the community could match Reinhard's discipline when it came to jobs.  Even on rest days, he could be found attending to bits of business, in an attempt to get a head start on the next week.  He even had a name for his rest day approach to jobs: resting and running.

On the drive out of Flagstaff that evening we discussed 'bin raiding', something I had first heard about in Bin Raiders, another book written by Dave, which I had read before coming on my trial week.  I wanted to hear first-hand how this worked for Reinhard and Jeremy on a practical level.

Jeremy shared that the community had first started raiding industrial bins out of consideration for Jesus' teaching about being poor in spirit.  They knew that supermarkets threw away tons of good food each day, often for frivolous reasons.  They thought that if they could make use of such food, they could then put the money they would have used to feed themselves, towards helping the poor.  This would allow them to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ (i.e. to be poor in spirit themselves, and to help others who did not have access to all the wealth that they had).

Along the way the community had developed a wider appreciation of just what it was that they were doing.  What they called 'luxury' foods (tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate, and tobacco) were a root cause of poverty in several third world countries, because of all the arable farmland taken up to grow those crops.  At the same time, after the crops had been exported to the West, roughly half of them would be wasted for one reason or another, with grocery store throw-outs being one of the biggest sources of that waste.

Because of the profit motive, large landowners in famine countries continued to use land which would have otherwise been used to grow staple foods - like maize, rice, and wheat - to grow luxury ‘cash crops’ instead.  Refusing to buy such products from the supermarket, and ‘rescuing’ them from the trash instead, allowed us to be a part of the solution rather than adding to the problem.  Jeremy explained all this to me during our drive that night.

The theory made sense.  I could see the rationale behind it: Why buy food, when you can find it for free in a trash can, and help the poor/save the environment in the process?  But the question remained:  Could I actually bring myself to do it?

Concerns about what other people would think of me doing such a thing plagued me.  "What if a friend spotted me actually rummaging through bins?"  I realized that such concerns stemmed from fear, and not from faith.  In my mind, I had been won over; I prayed for faith to get it all into perspective when the time came for me to actually do it.

I'm not likely to forget our Grand Canyon experience.  We arrived in the morning, parked our camper at the back of the parking area, and then walked around for the rest of the day, looking at the sights and admiring the craftsmanship of the Creator.  Jeremy found the park particularly inspiring; he spent several moments alone in scenic spots, soaking it all in like a sponge.

During our walks, Reinhard gave me a set of Bible verse cards to study in my free time.  The cards enabled one to quickly learn key verses, some of them essential for spiritual growth, and others geared toward answering criticisms commonly made of our lifestyle and beliefs.  On one side would be a short phrase describing the verse, along with a simple picture.  On the other side would be the actual verse, and the reference from the Bible for where it could be found.  I studied the cards as we walked, and when we took breaks.

During one of our walks, Jeremy and I discussed nutrition.  He said that he had been a vegetarian early in his adult life, but changed his hard-line stance against meat-eating after joining the community.  In particular, he now felt almost an obligation to eat meat ‘rescued’ from a bin, so that the animal would not have entirely died in vain.  Because he had not done anything to support the meat industry, he did not have any guilt about contributing to the animal's demise.  I enjoyed hearing Jeremy share his beliefs.

Later that evening Reinhard gave me a verse-card quiz.  I got about half of them right - not valedictorian material, but okay for a beginner, according to Reinhard.  

We resumed our journey the next morning.  It had been a very inspiring experience which I would take with me forever.  I emailed Sheila, telling her I planned to be back on Thursday, May 4th.  I could then share in person with her and the others about my experience with the Jesus Christians, and what I wanted to do with my life.

On the drive, I received an intimidating voice message from John, which shook me up.  He yelled through the phone, demanding that I return home immediately, and stop playing games with his ‘moms’. He spoke aggressively throughout, a threatening tone bleeding through each word.  I told Jeremy and Reinhard about my concerns that violence might erupt if we spoke in person with my family.  My concerns would later be confirmed to a greater extent than I had ever imagined.

We debated whether to turn up in person.  I had only one day left for my trial week, and I knew I wanted to join.  But John's phone call had troubled me.  If his message was any indication, then what awaited us back home would not be pretty.

Jeremy argued in favor of going.  I think he thought I was hoping to be able to keep a few of my belongings there in case I changed my mind later.  Or maybe he was thinking that I was too chicken to stand up to my parents.  He reminded me of Jesus' admonition to the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor, and cautioned me against being double-minded, something I had been going through for two years before finally making the decision to come out.

Reinhard - he thought outside the box - argued from a different angle.  He thought it okay (considering the circumstances) to make an exception and leave my possessions at home to avoid a scene.  But he said that my relationship with my family was far more important; sharing my decision to join the community in person would be an important step towards fostering good family relations, and showing that I was not running away.  I did not share the same conviction.

In the end, we decided on a compromise.  We would go to the house when everyone was away the next morning.  I would use my key to get in, take the rest of my clothes and other items which I had left, and then I could call to let them know about my decision, after driving a safe distance away from the house.

If, however, this plan did not work, then we would go with our first plan, and meet up with them in person.  I could get the remainder of my belongings after introducing Reinhard and Jeremy to my family.  The plan sounded fair enough to me.

We went to the house the next morning, May 4, at around 10 am.  Like I suspected, everyone had gone, and the house was empty.

Reinhard and Jeremy parked a few blocks away.  I took my key, walked to the house, and tried to get in.  After several unsuccessful attempts, it dawned on me - they had changed the lock.  How odd!  I returned to the vehicle to inform the guys.

Reinhard and Jeremy said that it may have been for the best that the locks had been changed, as that now forced us to meet and share with my family in person.  It could have been a set-up from God to show us His will, Jeremy said.  

For several months by that stage, the U.S. team had been operating as an 'autonomous' team within the Jesus Christians.  What that meant was that neither Dave, Cherry, nor any other leader outside of the U.S. was being consulted about decisions.  In fact, the rest of the larger community was largely ignorant of the issues.  Nevertheless, Dave had, months earlier, cautioned the others when he heard how fearful I was about my parents, to honour my wishes first, since I obviously knew them much better than any of the JCs.  This advice was completely overlooked at this time, with Dave not being consulted further.

We drove from the house to our book storage facility, in Compton, and loaded up with boxes of Survivors for our next outreach.  My trial week ended officially that evening, although I had already made it clear what I wanted to do.

Nevertheless, it was time to officially forsake my possessions in order to complete the initiation process.  Though some of the things I owned remained in the house in Long Beach, nothing could keep me from forsaking the items I had brought with me.  We decided to go ahead with the ‘ceremony’ based on what I had available.

Reinhard brought out my bag of belongings.   We went through each item one by one; they gave me the choice at each step to retract my decision.

I enjoyed the proceedings.  I couldn't help but feel excited, as the significance of the night sunk in.

The whole process took only a few minutes.  I had now officially forsaken my material possessions to the Jesus Christians, to be sold and given to the poor.  I now stood as an official member of the community.

We discussed what to do the next morning.  Because John represented my main concern, I suggested we turn up unannounced.  John lived several minutes away; if we came in early enough, I could almost guarantee that neither John nor any of my other relatives would be there.  I suggested we aim to arrive by 7 am.  Sheila, Jared, and Josh would normally be awake by then, and John would usually be sleeping, in his apartment on the other side of Long Beach Poly.  Reinhard and Jeremy both thought my suggestion sounded fine.

I still had concerns about the ensuing confrontation, although I hoped that we could get in and out before John arrived, and no violence would ensue.  My naivety about the situation's intensity proved later to be dead wrong.

Mail us at:   fold@idl.net.au,    OR write to:    Godstuff Comix,  P.O.Box A678, Sydney South, Australia 1235