My years as a tongue speaker part 5: David at the seminary

David at 10A Judson Lane Mill Valley

Driving back across the bridge into Marin, now with David Hoyt in the car, he and all his worldly possessions. He still had on his religious garments, and he had that look in his eye, expression on his face, and the body language of someone who had totally imbibed eastern spirituality.

The time was 1967 and the place was a Southern Baptist Seminary. Everyone on campus was Caucasian, the professors mostly spoke with southern accents, and no one looked like I did, with a mustache and slightly longer hair, and certainly no one looked liked David Hoyt. Now he would be living there among them.

Then there was my wife Bobbie, about as straight an arrow as you could get, plus my two little girls, a kindergartner and first grader – Dory and Grace. With only two small bedrooms and neighbors on each side, there was no place to hide David.

I was working part time, and Bobbie worked as a minimum wage sales clerk. We had the G.I. Bill, without which I would not have been able to afford a seminary education, but I was also pastor of Excelsior Baptist Church in Byron and making $10 a week. (It had been $20 a week but the deacons got mad at me for bringing migrant workers to church and baptizing them.) We barely survived as it was.

Bobbie and the kids were quite shocked when David and I walked into the place carrying his belongings. He ended up making our tiny front room his bedroom and we managed as best we could, but the pressure was on Bobbie. My dear, sweet daughters made the best of it and got along with David just fine.

How it all worked out is kind of blurry to me now, but I recall David coming to classes with me, and I would hear stories of his wanderings around the campus and talking to students. He spent some time with Timothy Wu who was living in the men’s dorm. Due to David’s strange appearance and presence in the admin and academic buildings, a ruling was made to the effect that students could not have non-relatives living with them. (This rule is still in force.)

My job was to disciple David and I did the best I could. All my life it seems I have been constantly busy and especially then. But we fit it all in. David and I started from scratch: who is God, what is sin, what was the Fall, and the longish story about what God did about it all. David was nothing else but intense and eager. He was a sponge and grasped complex biblical ideas quickly. After a few weeks he was ready to go with me into the city on what were now routine visits and ministry on the streets of the Haight-Ashbury. It was the “Summer of Love,” which David and three others had actually organized. As I am thinking through these things I realize David Hoyt was not only one of the first, if not the first convert in the Jesus People Movement, but he was also one of the chief evangelists for the whole hippie scene in San Francisco.

So our adventures together began. At least once a week we drove into the City, arriving as early as possible and staying as late as possible, visiting David’s old friends at the Krishna Consciousness Temple and others like the Buddhist priest, Robert Sutherland, to whom David did his best to tell about Jesus, and hippie after hippie by the hundreds. Early on we wrote up flyers, some of which I still have, and passed these out. We bought hundreds of Campus Crusades, The Four Spiritual Laws, and other materials to use in our witnessing. Some were converted, but it was only the trickle before the flood that was to come.

One other thing David and I did together: he began coming with me to Byron on Saturdays and Sundays. That story comes up next.

Leave a Reply