David Comes to Seminary

Chapter 5

David Comes to Seminary

Driving back across the bridge into Marin, now with David Hoyt in the car with all his worldly possessions, I started thinking what I was going to tell my wife Bobbie. David still had on his Hindu religious garments, and he had that look in his eye, expression on his face, and body language of someone who had totally imbibed eastern spirituality. I frankly worried how this would work. Here I am bringing a stranger into the house where my family and I lived, all in a really small two-bedroom apartment with one bathroom and a dinky kitchen, and now this weird looking guy dressed like Mahatma Gandhi takes up residence. I guessed he would have to sleep on the couch.

“Bobbie, this is David. Hey girls, this is David, come and meet him.” It went something like that. No cell phones existed at that time, so our arrival was not pre-announced, and it was a shock for them, especially Bobbie, to lay eyes on David. Bobbie quietly said hello, stepped up and shook hands, then retreated a bit and just looked at the strange house guest. It was quite uncomfortable, and we stumbled about for a bit until we all came in and sat down. 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.

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

I was working part time, and Bobbie worked as a salesclerk at the Thrifty drugstore in Corte Madera. 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.[1] We barely survived as it was.

David 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 wandering 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 administration 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.)

A group of men playing guitars

Description automatically generated with low confidence

My job was to disciple David, and I did the best I could. All my life it seems I have been constantly busy but especially then. Somehow 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. Wherever David went, whatever he did, his impact was outsized.

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. We visited 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. Added to them was hippie after hippie by the hundreds. Early on we wrote up and passed out flyers, some of which I still have, and we bought hundreds of Campus Cru­sade’s, The Four Spiritual Laws, and other materials to use in our wit­nessing. Many hippies and others were converted during those days in 1967, 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 and may actually be the reason why the deacons of Excelsior Baptist Church declined to restore my money.

[1] It had been $20 a week but the deacons got mad at me for bringing migrant workers to church and baptizing them. All these years later, and I still wonder how it was that my salary did not ever go back to the starting $20 per week, yet our income climbed rapidly and steeply.

Leave a Reply