Reflections on the Jesus Movement
Man had nothing to do with causing the revival which came to be known as the Jesus Movement. Those of us who were thrust into the forefront by the news media were only witnesses to what was being brought about by God's Holy Spirit.
Those of us who served in the capacity of evangelists (Arthur Blessit, Lonnie Frisbee, myself and others) moved about as we were led. We believed it was the Holy Spirit who was leading us, and I still believe that. Being a basically shy person, I was most comfortable sitting in a closet with a typewriter, writing and preparing stories for the paper.
Some, like Jack Sparks, pictured here with me about 30 years ago, were given the gift for campus ministry and reached out to students and faculty members at UC Berkeley and elsewhere. Others, like Chuck Smith, had the gift of organizing churches, teaching and preserving those who were becoming Christians. I'm reminded of Ephesians 4:11-13 which says it was Jesus who "gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
On frequent Sunday afternoons, we used the massive Hollywood Palladium as our worship center. Bands and musicians and speakers would show up and we included them on the program. Pat Boone and his daughters, Love Song, Andre Crouch, Larry Norman along with many others became the eclectic afternoon experience. It was my practice at the Sunday afternoon events, before the first music group was introduced, to ask those in the packed-out auditorium whether anyone had come to the event for the specific purpose of receiving Jesus Christ as their Savior. People would begin to stand all around the hall, sometimes hundreds.
We had a large room reserved as a prayer room and for spiritual counseling. A Hollywood businessman and ardent Christian, Lawrence Young, headed the team of Christians who were prepared to counsel and pray with those who spontaneously responded to the invitation. Lawrence was one of the original organizers of the first Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles in 1948. He seemed to be involved in every activity in the L.A. area where Christ was being proclaimed to the lost.
Very little of what I was involved in with the Jesus People Movement was planned, and never really highly organized. It just happened! I'd book the Palladium and then wait to see who showed up. When putting together an issue of the Hollywood Free Paper, various friends would drop by, and they, along with folks from the street who were hoping to sleep on the our floor that night, became the staff of the paper, helping to paste it up and put it together.
One dear friend, a pastor of a large megachurch, said to me, "Duane, I don't know how you do it. Without any preplanning you seem to intuitively know what to do while you are doing it. I can't work that way, I need to have a set plan for everything I do." Folks, it was not me. The Holy Spirit was drawing people to Christ.
Much of the evangelism I have been involved with, then and now, is what happens along the way, while we are in the process of going somewhere. It's now been 35 years that I've walked the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard and on most every walk while going to the Post Office or another errand, I'm stopped by someone - usually homeless, hungry, lonely, scared - and as best as I can, I seek to meet their immediate need for food, listen to their story, and offer to pray with them. In nearly every situation, the person tells of their desire to return to God and the way they once knew.
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