Early Leaders in Marin County

The Hippie Scene Degenerates The hippie thing was done by the summer of 1968, and by 1969the Haight-Ashbury had utterly changed. Long gone was the1967 Summer of Love, but despite the radical change, theunabated influx of kids from all over the country continued, likely

because the hippie thing had moved eastward over the previous year.

They were easy to spot with their sleeping bags and suitcases and

were the kids I approached and shared the message of Jesus with.

They were often runaways, and what they found in the “liberating

mecca of love” disillusioned and discouraged them. Now they were

scared, broke, and desperate. The girls had often been molested in

one way or another, and the guys often turned to drug dealing and


The Switchboard was a hippie organization set up to assist America’s

youth looking for a new way of living and provided “trip masters”

for those wishing to expand their minds by taking LSD. Owsley

was the favorite brand then, and several trip masters turned out to be

little more than rapists. One day, angered by tales I had been hearing

from both young men and women,1 I walked into the old Victorian on

Fell Street, where the Switchboard was housed, and standing in the

large front office I began calling them out, challenging them all to a

fight, right then and there. I cut loose with, “You raping, robbing jerks,

you need to go to prison, and I’m going to see to it, if you continue,

you %$#*&+$s.” Not too Christian, perhaps, which is debatable, but

1 On Haight Street I was known as someone to turn to, and it was not unusual

for emergency cases to find their way to me. I found that the local police and medical

people were extremely helpful and competent in those days.

Chapter 14

Early Leaders in

Marin County

46 Chapter 14

considering my size and physical condition in those days, few would

have wanted to accept the challenge.

The predators had descended into the district by the middle of

1968. Even the motorcycle gangs were there in large numbers. People’s

minds had indeed been expanded by marijuana, LSD, peyote,

magic mushrooms, and mescaline, so that heroin and meth were

becoming the new drugs of choice. No one wore flowers in their hair

anymore. Drug dealers were everywhere, as were the pimps and the

porn makers. Good-looking young flesh, mostly white, was up for

grabs. This is not racist in any sense, just true.

The kids kept coming, and once in a while we were able to rescue

some. We sent many young people home on buses, trains, and planes.

Sometimes parents traveled long distances by car to claim their children.

I must relate a story, since I have included her biography in this

book. We called her Mary K., and she had sunk to real lows by the

summer of 1968. She had been a high class business professional but

heroin did her in. There she was, standing on Haight Street, flagging

down cars. I called out to her, she stopped and listened, and as I presented

the forgiveness we have in Jesus, she was immediately converted

right in front of me. I took her to Zion’s Inn, and she lived with

us for about a year, until she married a young man who attended the

Tuesday night Bible Study. Mary K. was one of the original members

of Joyful Noise, and through her testimony at our concerts in high

schools and churches around the state, I would estimate that several

hundred kids’ lives where changed. She is someone special, and so is

her husband Chuck Mancebo.

Sometime in 1970, I turned my attention exclusively to Marin

County where I was living, since the work there was in full bloom.

Leaders Emerge

In 1969, I had met Mike Riley and Roger Hoffman, both students

at Golden Gate Seminary. Like Paul Bryant and Oliver Heath, they

were attracted to a different kind of Christian ministry and were also

interested in the charismatic part of the Jesus Movement. They soon

saw that we were in desperate need for some theologically trained

people, so Mike and Roger led the opening of a new Christian house

Early Leaders in Marin County 47

in Mill Valley on Ethel Avenue. At one point they asked me to come

to the school they attended, my old alma mater, to meet a friend of

theirs who had expressed interest in working with us. His name was

Bob Hymers.

Bob, whose full name is Robert Leslie Hymers, Jr., would play a

very large role in the ministry we were developing in Marin. He was

one of the best preachers I had ever heard; yet he was quite different

in many ways. A Southern Baptist, not the slightest charismatic, but a

real fighting fundamentalist, he loved evangelism and was tireless in

this area. A brilliant man of the highest IQ I had ever met (during his

high school years in Los Angeles he would be the lead in several plays

at once and could memorize all the lines without confusing them), he

and I became close friends.

Bob, Moishe Rosen, and I

became fairly well suited to different

kinds of ministry: demonstrations,

protests, infiltrating

anti-war demonstrations, book

burning events, picketing the Russian

Consulate in San Francisco,

and other forms of street evangelism,

including street preaching

and the use of tracts, known as

broadsides. It was Moishe who,

being older than Bob and I and

with experience and inventiveness

we could not match, spurred

us onto these new approaches.

Led by Moishe, we quickly organized

many demonstrations. We

regularly managed to get leaflet

materials composed and prepared

for printing, placards made by the dozen, and the call put out to be at

a certain place at a certain time. Hundreds of Jesus freaks would show

up, marching and handing out flyers. It was a wild and exciting time.

Moishe taught me how to get media coverage from radio, newspapers,

and television stations at whatever event we were up to; it

48 Chapter 14

worked wonderfully well. The attention we received served to inspire

other Jesus freaks all over the country to try the same things; thus it

served as a kind of cross-pollinization process, and the same sort of

strategies began to spread across the nation.

Bob was an exciting preacher, and we brought together many of

our Bible study groups and material to new Sunday evening gatherings.

We met in San Rafael at both the Lucas Valley Community

Church, pastored by Dale Nystrom, and The Christian Church, pastored

by Chuck Boman. We also rented out the Episcopal Church in

San Rafael’s suburb of Lucas Valley.

I was attracted to the Presbyterian form of government as

opposed to either the congregational style I had learned as a Baptist,

or an episcopal, hierarchical style, like the Catholic or Episcopal

churches. As a result, we developed an eldership structure within our

Christian House Ministries. By the time Mike, Roger, and Bob came

along, our eldership consisted of Mark, Kenny, and me. Some other

key leaders, who later became elders, were Bob Gaulden, Bob Burns,

and Cliff Silliman. Paul Bryant and Oliver Heath had already moved on

to other things, so Mike, Roger, and Bob joined Mark, Kenny, and me

to form a group of elders; I served as the senior elder, but this was all

informal and not recorded in any way. This came about in 1971, but I

am getting ahead of my story.

Leave a Reply