The Jesus people gathered together to experience Jesus like never before during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Throughout the West Coast, many experimented with drugs, evangelized youth and gave their lives to Jesus Christ. As they held on to their faith, they had spiritual encounters through visions and what they perceived as miraculous provisions.
In their own words, here are some of the experiences of the Jesus People:
During his years as member of Shiloh Youth Revival Center, Grisanti said he learned to study the biblical word and put his trust in God.
We got a job once transferring U-haul trucks from Oregon to California. So, a guy named Brandon and I, we drove some trucks down and then we’d hitchhike back up. We hitchhiked everywhere, it was really the time when you could do that and it was always a real adventure. So, we were stuck in King City, California. It’s in the middle of nowhere and it was farm country, so there was nothing around it. So, we were waiting there, I mean, all day for a ride. I was getting impatient and we were hungry, we had no money and we had no food. So, anyway, we’re sitting there and I said, “You know what, Brandon? Let’s pray. Let’s ask God to provide food for us.” And he said, “Alright, man. What are we gonna do?” So, we bow our heads and we prayed. And I remembered praying the prayer. And I said, “God, we’re so hungry and we pray that you’ll provide some food for us, you know.”
And then we hear this big truck coming by and I could hardly hear myself pray so I just said, “Okay. amen.” The truck was loaded down with carrots and two gigantic carrots fell at our feet, one in front of him and one in front of me. This is not an exaggeration. This happened. And we said, ‘Lord, please provide food for us,’ we opened our eyes and there was food right in front of us. And it was incredible. We brushed the dirt off of it and they were absolutely delicious and they filled us up.
So, then right afterwards, we got a ride up to Berkeley. And someone told us there was a place we can stay that was run by some older Christian man who has a ministry on the campus of UC Berkeley. So, we went there and he invited us in and he said, ‘Hey, let me give you guys money for the road.” So, there it was, we had no money and we had no food and by the end of the evening, we had money and we had food. And it was really the hand of God that did that.
The former president of Shiloh Youth Revival Center. Ortize, taught at the bible school and was a director of the Bible discipleship program. He had overseen many Shiloh centers before resigning as president.
“For me, I mean, I was still very young in the Lord, but there was a student riot at the University of Oregon. Campus Crusade for Christ was trying to minister during this shutdown at the university. So, they called us and asked if we would come and help them pass out literature and talk to people. The whole idea of this thing was that they had a microphone in the student square, as long as you were talking into the microphone, you could hold on to it. And only when you quit that someone else would have a chance to step up.
So, the campus crusade guys were up there talking, talking, talking and eventually, they were just exhausted and they said, “Well one of you guys step up.” It’s kinda like they pushed me forward, why? I don’t know. And I got up and I just started sharing. But, basically, I talked for the next two hours. And just I shared about the hope of the gospel in Jesus because the whole message said ‘that if you want peace then peace begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ, you need to invite the prince of peace.’
It was amazing because up to that point, people were just going milling around. Then all of sudden, this crowd of people began to form and they were listening. And it was just interesting because it was the first time that I realized that it wasn’t me. You know, I didn’t have the chops for this. This was the Holy Spirit and it’s like you’re a spectator in the very events you’re experiencing. And we just saw a whole lot of people just make their decision for Christ that day. That was, I think the first time I realized that God had given me a voice.”
As one of the people who started the House of Acts, Sandi Heefner helped organize dinner meals for the people who were spending the night.
“We had a gentleman, he was from the east coast and we did not know this, but he was using heroin. He was kinda friendly. He wanted to be part of the group but, he didn’t come to the center of it. He kinda hung back. Well, we didn’t like strangers in our house when our children were there but, he came in cause we had known our husbands had known him. And I had an awful feeling about him. There were only women and children in the room and I had a terrible feeling that something was wrong.
So, he was sitting at [the] round table in the kitchen and as I walked around the table, I said, “Father show me what’s going on.” And the top of his skull flipped open like a hinged top. And I kinda peeped inside and there were swarms of swarms of snakes. Then the top of his head flipped back down. And he told me that, you know, he was full of devil spirits. There were many things like that to the point where we didn’t get thrown by those things anymore. We knew that we were actively fighting for the souls of the youth of this country and we were not to be deterred.”
As one of the people who started the House of Acts, Steve Heefner evangelized to youth, helped serve food and sometimes taught bible studies.
“I had taught a group of about 300 at Presbyterian church in Rye, New York. And I’m really wired after speaking, and it’s dark, everybody’s gone now so, ‘Now, what I am gonna do?’ And I started going to the Yonkers racetrack which was horse racing. And that was a way to blow off some energy and kinda get ready to sleep and everything. So I went over there that night and the Lord began to show me what discerning of spirits is and showing me the future and all kinds of things.
He said, “You wanna know who wins the next race? And he said, “Go and stand here.” I went and stood in a place and, and this little creepy spirit– I call him a weasel, but it was a human being. And the spirit came up and he said to the ticket seller at the racetrack, he said, “four.” The word “four” sounded like no human voice I’d ever heard before. And I knew that was some kind of something. What did that mean? And I started talking with the Lord, praying in the spirit. And he says, “Well, I wanna show you that this race is fixed.” I said, “Really? “Yeah,” he says, “you wanna know what happens?” So, I go over and I walk to the front of the main stretch and I closed my eyes and I said, “Well, this is what I’m asking for. What’s gonna happen?” And I saw the race, what was gonna happen was my four-horse was gonna win. So I took whatever I had on it and that thing came in exactly the way the Lord said it. Exactly. And I just took it over and put it in the church donation box.”
Kathy Gilbert was in charge of the kitchen at the Shiloh Youth Revival Center.
“It was getting dark so I found a place right on the ocean among the seagrass and the sand dunes and the driftwood and made a bed there. I just looked up to the stars and I finally said,” If you’re real … Jesus, obviously you’re real to them and you’ve done something that is absolutely transforming and “If you’re real, if you want me, I don’t have anything to give you, other than me, my sleeping bag and my backpack, but if you want me”– he did. So, he took me, filled me, filled me with such joy.
And I remember that as that joy and love flooded in, all the uncleanness–because the whole time that I was a hippie, not only did I know I was lost. Not only did I know that there had to be answers, but I knew that I was unclean. And the one thing that the hippie lifestyle promises is, ‘Oh if you eat these certain foods and you do these certain disciplines, you will be clean.’ No, that never made you clean. But at that moment, that night there on the Oregon coast, I was cleansed. As God’s love poured in, that sin, which I didn’t realize was sin, came flooding out and God cleansed it and took it away. Filled me with just his love and I did not trust myself, so the next day, I wanted to make sure it was for real because I knew those people in Shiloh were.”
Lambert Dolphin turned his house into a communal to host many people during the Jesus Movement. He was also a friend of pastor Ted Wise who was one of the people who started the House of Acts, a communal house.
“I had just discovered Jesus at the age of 30, and I wanted to get the whole truth all in one dose. I signed up and took LSD as a legitimate legal, medical experiment done by a clinic. I did not realize it was so overwhelming that you go in a door that’s never been opened before and you’re not in control of what happens. Your ego gets swapped out and all sorts of stuff from the unconscious and from nature floods in and overwhelms the brain. And you don’t have any real control over all this that’s unfolding.
Much of it is very beautiful [but] it’s very dangerous, because you see the dark side too, if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s important if you take LSD to do it in a carefully good controlled setting with friends, even then it’s dangerous because you could be completely overwhelmed with the unconscious and even go psychotic and people do commit suicide and so on. The recovery was a year of confusion and feeling dislocated and unplugged but gradually I came back to the real world and my friends were very supportive and my Church was very supportive. But, that changed my whole view of the whole universe.”
Stephen Gilbert was in charge of the tape ministry, which lent preaching tapes to Shiloh Youth Revival Center members. Gilbert also was in charge of printing the newsletter and taught at the Shiloh bible school.
“So, I remember my first day that I was officially in Shiloh because I had visited several other times because my brother was up there and it was in January of 1970. I had been sitting on the floor of my house at Cal State Northridge, trying to gouge out these little things to make the linoleum print and I just like a thunderclap just came on me, you know, ‘You’re wasting your time doing this.’ And I-I got up and left my house. I walked away from the house. I actually think I took my car back to my folks because it was their car. I hitchhiked to Oregon. I actually failed my last semester because there were still two weeks left. I didn’t graduate or anything.
And I got there in January of 1970 and slept that night in the basement. There was bunk beds like in the basement. No one lived on The Land yet they were working out there and they said, “Oh, you have some experience as a carpenter, we need carpenters.” So, we got up at, of course, sunrise, and had breakfast, oatmeal. So, we went out the first day, we did some work and then they said, “We’re not going to work on the land anymore, we’re going to go tear down these houses. They’ll pay us to tear down the house and they’ll let us have the materials,” so all the materials we built the cabins with, we built from tearing down these houses. So, my first day was going out on the land.”
Ed Weyman helped start communal houses in Los Angeles with a group of Christian musicians.