I grew up in a traditional Protestant family.
We went to church every Sunday. Every year
my family went to a Christian family camp where
people of all ages came to go “farther
out with Jesus” – to a retreat.
Every year after that camp my family would “get
serious for God.” But slowly we would
settle back down into our daily routines and
the cares of life would come upon us, and the
emotional high from camp would wear off. For
me camp was like my gas station. But I would
run out of gas way before the next camp.
In high school, I questioned a lot of what
I heard in church and even at that camp. I
started seeking outside of Christianity for
spirituality. In college I mixed Jesus into
every different religion and philosophy that
I tasted. I started to use drugs as a means
for religious/mystical experience. I always
believed that Jesus was there with me, as well
as Buddha, Ghandi, Timothy Leary, Jerry Garcia,
At the end of my first year I had decided
to actually read the entire New Testament.
I started with the gospels. By this time I
had HIPPIE-FIED Jesus. I read and read and
I couldn’t put it down. There were things
that Jesus said that I had never heard in church
or at camp. I read about the radical love He
had. How He traveled and spoke of the Kingdom
of God, having no place to lay His head. How
His disciples abandoned everything to follow
Him. When I began reading Acts I got more excited.
I read in chapters 2 and 4 that they shared
everything and lived communally.
I began to attend a Pentecostal church as
well as a home group Bible study. That summer
at camp I was convicted of my pot smoking and
seeing Jesus as a hippie mystic. I straightened
up and became zealous for God, attending services
and meetings every time I had a chance. At
one Bible study I was sharing about how the
first disciples lived communally, and a woman
there told me about a church that lived that
way in the ’70s and they were still fairly
communal today. Immediately I went there to
spend a few weeks. I read a book about how
that community began. I was fascinated. Although
they no longer lived together there was always
something going on in that church. There I
got caught up in the nostalgia of the Jesus
Movement of the ’70s. I immediately joined
the church and moved to that town.
I would ask from time to time about what
it was like when they lived together. I would
get responses like, “It was too hard;
we couldn’t do it,” and “I
didn’t like other people having their
say in my family’s life.” When
I would express my burden to live together
and share everything, they would fondly say, “Oh,
you should have been here 30 years ago,” and “You
were born in the wrong generation.” But
some would say, “Go ahead and try.”
I was willing to make the sacrifice, but
I couldn’t find others who were willing.
I would wonder how they could say, “It’s
too hard.” Isn’t the Holy Spirit
strong enough to bring it about? Isn’t
God’s love strong enough? Eventually
I didn’t think so much about Acts 2 and
4 and living together. I just went with the
flow in my church.
A few years went by and while attending a
Messianic Jewish conference in a neighboring
city, a flicker of hope came to me. I went
outside for some fresh air and met a couple
of men who told me that they lived in a community
of believers who lived like Acts 2 and 4. One
of them said he used to be a pastor of a Pentecostal
church and he gave it all up to live in this
community. I was astonished to hear of a pastor
quitting his pastorate to live out the New
Testament. Immediately I was drawn to them.
I talked all about them to the people who took
me to the conference.
So the first chance I got I took time off
of work and went to visit. It didn’t
take long to see that it wasn’t a certain
set of rules that held them together, or a
charismatic guru-type person persuading everybody.
It was true, genuine love! It was the kind
of love that I wanted but had never seen before,
the kind of love that called all to live for
others, not themselves. They had the heart
to give up everything and make the sacrifice
that it takes to live out Acts 2 and 4. It
was the genuine love of God that was poured
into their hearts.
I quickly saw that is was not some utopian
hippie idealistic dream, but down-to-earth
reality. I saw where the rubber hit the road.
I saw that though I was willing, I did not
in myself have the kind of love that it takes
to live that life. But I wanted it. I wanted
a clean new start. I wanted to be truly saved
from my sins. I wanted to be able to love like
Jesus loved, as I saw demonstrated there. I
knew they were the only ones who had it, so
if I wanted it, I would have to get it from
They told me that I could get it from Him,
the real down-to-earth Jesus whom they called
by the name Yahshua.
I could have the same Holy Spirit that they
had if I would give my life to Him and make
the sacrifice to build His Kingdom. That sacrifice
was my life, my own sovereignty. I had to make
Him Sovereign in reality, and live it out every
day by loving and sharing with the community
of God. So down I went into the waters, being
cleansed and set free from my sin, and up I
came with a resurrected life to give totally to
my King and my new family. Now every day I
can serve Him where He is (John 12:26), and
love my brothers as He teaches (John 13:34-35;
1 John 3:14-19). I am so thankful!