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Author Topic: A True Testimony To Jesus (Decision Today Story)  (Read 5695 times)

« on: January 21, 2003, 01:27:06 am »

In the early 1970's many were pulled away from what was considered the "shallow and superficial" Calvary Chapel into the Assembly.

Both George Geftakys and Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapels have many similarities.  Both sought to reach out to young people and hippies and utilized the spiritual climate of the Jesus Movement.  Both sought to move away from traditional church style and place an emphasis on worship and Bible Study.  Both are now coming to the end of their ministry at the age of 75 years old.

There are differences between the two.  One sought to control everything about their ministry while the other allowed the people, after being trained, to go out and minister how God was leading them.  One was critisized for being too hard on people, the other was critized for being to soft.  One was just excommunicated.  The other can speak humbly of the 1,500 churches that began through his ministry that will continue long after he is gone and was recently featured in December, 2002 Decision Today magazine.

The latter is a true testimony to Jesus.

A Conversation With Chuck Smith

by Jim Dailey

Chuck Smith's evangelistic outreach began as a ministry to hippies. Then, more than 30 years ago, he felt the Lord calling him from Corona, California, to Costa Mesa to begin the ministry of Calvary Chapel. Now there are more than 1,000 Calvary Chapels in the United States and more than 500 International Calvary Chapels. What happened to this fellowship is a testimony of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to build His Church.

Q/ Chuck, you started ministering to the hippie generation in California many years ago at a time when most of the adult culture viewed them suspiciously at best. Why?

A/ The area in California where I lived was a mecca for these hippies. They flooded in by the thousands. These young people were searching for love and peace. They had denounced the material world as incapable of bringing the love and the peace for which they were searching. Many of them came from very affluent homes where they had everything they could dream of or hope for in a material sense. But in the midst of all that they saw divorced parents and their country at war. They realized that there was no real love or peace. But so often when a person is pursuing something, they look in the wrong place to find it. Drugs provided them with a pseudo-spiritual experience and a sense of peace. It wasn't long before they discovered that their new lifestyle was flawed as well. For instance, they would keep their stash of drugs in a commune, and someone would steal it. They became disillusioned with the movement because it had made big promises, but it wasn't fulfilling them.

My wife had a real burden for these kids, because we had our own teenagers at the time. Ultimately, we opened a communal house where we began to explain the Gospel. The message we gave was the message of Christ, a message of true love and peace. The young people embraced the message of Jesus.

After our first Christian communal house had operated for about two weeks, 35 young people accepted Christ and moved out of the hippie communal houses and into our Christian environment. We ran out of room. Kids were sleeping wall-to-wall. One kid was sleeping in the bathtub.

There were such radical, dramatic changes in these young people that school administrators came to find out what was going on. Kids that had dropped out of school returned. The police, who had had such problems with these kids, came to find out what was happening. Judges came to us because the youth on their caseloads were changing. The church began as a movement among the young people, but then it spread to the parents, grandparents, judges, police and others. It began to balance out through the community.

Q/ How do you keep the Gospel relevant to today's generation?

A/ There is still emptiness within people, and they attempt to fill that with things that do not satisfy. Jesus said to the woman at the well, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again" (John 4:13, NKJV). I tell people to write this Scripture over the top of their ambition, over every goal they set for their lives. No ambition is going to satisfy their thirst, because it is a spiritual thirst. Man is a three-fold being -- body, soul and spirit. We have physical thirst. We have emotional thirst for love, security and the need to be needed. Then way down, deep inside, we have a thirst for God. In Romans 8, Paul said, "The creature was made subject to vanity" (Romans 8:20, KJV). God created a spiritual thirst that only He can quench. The problem is that people are trying to quench a spiritual thirst with a physical or emotional experience. It can't be done, even as you can't fill a physical thirst with an emotional experience.

Q/ How does the Church learn to accept those around us and not condemn them?

A/ When we first came to Calvary Chapel in 1965, I began to teach through the Bible starting at the First Epistle of John. In this book, John gives us proofs of the Christian life: "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar," (1 John 4:20, KJV) and "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (1 John 2:6, NKJV). The book illustrated for the church the difference between saying something and the reality of it. When the first hippie stepped through the door, it was a test: "Do I really love the Lord? Am I willing to embrace and accept someone who has a totally different set of values than I have?" It was a great test for the congregation. By the grace of God, they passed it. We were able to make church relevant to them. I began to teach in someone's home on Monday nights. We dressed casually. The study outgrew the home, and when we moved it to a church building, I continued to dress casually. I sat on a stool on the platform instead of behind a pulpit, speaking with them as if I were still in a living room. We took them from the home into the church by bringing that casual environment into the church.

Q/ What keeps you motivated at age 75?

A/ I love to see the work of the Holy Spirit in the transformation of lives. I am still after the young people. We built a youth camp and have had some 184,000 kids go through there. I love being with the kids up there, sitting down with them and talking about God. It's exciting to see them awaken to the things of God. That's why I love the outdoor environment of the camp. "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard" (Psalm 19:1-3, NKJV). It's a universal language God speaks to us through nature. In the city, the youth can't see the heavens because of the smog. They see streets and buildings rather than trees, flowers, deer and squirrels. Helping them see the handiwork of God in creation paves the way to hearing the voice of God through His Word.

from the December 2002 issue of "Decision Magazine" .  Note:  I cut it down due to BB limitations.  Ffor the rest of the inverview see
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2003, 02:47:59 am »

Amazing contrast.
Mark C.

« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2003, 08:02:42 pm »

   Great comparison!!  Thanks for sharing it.
                                       God Bless,  Mark
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