What happened at the temple—the fire and David’s coming to our little apartment at the seminary—was preceded by an event that I never clearly understood, but I will relate it as best I can now, although it takes us back a little in time.
Timothy Wu was a young and very evangelistic student at the seminary. Since we shared a passion for personal evangelism, we became friends. I was feeling overwhelmed and inadequate as I now faced holding a Bible study in the Hare Krishna Temple, and I thought it would be good if Timothy came with me. He readily agreed, and we set a time to go into the City.
My relationship with David was naturally strained; he was wary of me and me of him. Other devotees were polite but guarded and defensive. David and company would throw questions at me that I could not answer, although I was learning as much as I could about eastern religions. To make things more uncomfortable for me, I could find nothing at all on Krishna Consciousness in the seminary library.
As was my agreement with the Swami, Timothy and I had to sit through the Kirtan before heading down to the basement for the Bible study. After a prayer, I introduced Timothy and asked him to give the teaching. He started with how he had become a Christian and moved right into a very fine account of the Gospel message. He was speaking rapidly and passionately.
After the meeting broke up I headed upstairs, and after discussing the study with some of the devotees for a while, I looked around for Timothy but didn’t find him. I went back down the basement steps and saw Timothy and David engaged in animated conversation. They were both yelling, and it looked like they might be headed for a fist fight. When they noticed me watching them, they calmed down and backed away from each other. Timothy approached me, and we both turned and climbed up the stairs and up and out of the temple.
On the ride home we did not talk about what happened with David at the end of the Bible study. Timothy was silent about it for some reason, and all my attempts to find out failed. The best I could get out of him was, “Wait and see.” Something had happened, that was for sure. “What do you mean? I want to know what you guys were arguing about.” For some reason, he refused to tell me. Years later I figured it out. Timothy did not think that I, a good Baptist guy, could understand that he had received a “word” from God or a vision. It was almost three weeks before I found out what transpired between David and Timothy.
A little less than a month later I made another trip from the Hare Krishna Temple to Mill Valley. This time David accompanied me on the way back to the seminary. He was silent for most of the ride, but as we were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, he told me what had happened between him and Timothy that night. Timothy had given him a prophecy, a word of revelation that within three weeks God would take David out of the temple. All I did was listen.
Driving north on Highway 101, now in Marin, David told me about a dream he had had the previous night. He saw himself in a very large open space with peoples of the world all around him. All of a sudden he heard a trumpet blast and looking up, he saw Jesus in the clouds with a host of angels. People all around him were lifting up their arms to receive Jesus, and as they did they floated up and joined Him in the air. David said that he looked at his own feet, and they were firmly stuck to the ground. Fear rushed through him, and he woke up to find that his makeshift basement altar was on fire. He tried to put it out, but it was already too large to extinguish. He grabbed what he could and raced up the stairs. Then he ran down again, picked up some paint cans and a brush—supplies he had used to paint out the basement prior to his using it as a bedroom—and began writing in large letters those Christian slogans I saw on the walls of the temple. As the fire trucks started to arrive, he found a phone and called me.
Now his life was going to be very different.
As an endnote: Timothy Wu and I remained friends. He was the Bible Study in the Temple youth pastor at a Chinese Church in San Francisco, and he invited me to preach to their rather large assembly from time to time—and this was while he was at the seminary. I remember now the last time that we did evangelism together. Dr. Francis DuBose, professor of missions and evangelism at Golden Gate Seminary, had become a friend and mentor to me. Sometime in 1968 I asked him and Martin (Moishe) Rosen, who later founded Jews for Jesus, to be on the board of directors of Evangelical Concerns, a vital group composed of mostly American Baptist pastors. Around that time that Dr. DuBose asked me to conduct a tour and evangelist foray into the Haight-Ashbury. I did this several times, and on the first of these Timothy Wu came along. Timothy and I met the students on the corner of Haight and Ash- bury streets, divided up into teams of two, and agreed to return in two hours, bringing any converts with us. At the appointed hour the students began to arrive back at the appointed place. I brought two with me, and none of the students brought any, but Timothy came walking down the street with a whole group of hippie kids, twelve being the number I recall. We held a prayer and discipleship meeting right there on the street. Timothy preached and taught, and so did I. A larger crowd gathered, and several more professed faith in Jesus. This was the Jesus People Movement. And this was not the last time I would see something similar happen on that very street. But descriptions of some of those events will emerge when I talk about Lonnie Frisbee.