David Moves to Atlanta

The Jesus freak I am talking about in these memoirs is me, and

in this chapter I will talk only about those things that I was personally

involved in and therefore have some remembrance of. I

do have my journal, newsletters, old friends from that era with whom

I talk, and other materials that comprise my Jesus People archives,

but here I am touching only on my own personal experience. And I

caution readers: I may have some details wrong or slightly off.

That said, this chapter is focused (after a bit of detour) on David

Hoyt’s move to Atlanta, Georgia.

Another Story First

When David finished his work in Lancaster, he moved back to

Marin, and we saw the opening of Zion’s Inn. This was in 1968, and

David and I started painting houses to make money—of which we

had very little. Our first job was right up the street, and it consisted of

painting out some rooms on the second floor of a commercial building.

On the bottom floor was a business, and on the second floor was

a large apartment. (The building is still there in San Rafael, and I drive

by it frequently.)

First day on the job (and we had passed ourselves off as experienced

painters), we put a water-based latex paint on a wooden door

rather than the oil-based paint we were told to use. Frankly, we didn’t

know the difference; at least I didn’t, since I was the one who messed

up. That slowed things down, as I had to sand all the paint off after it

dried and lost a whole day. But we learned, and David and I found we

were good at the painting. And the money was not bad for back then

$5 an hour apiece.

David Moves to Atlanta

After painting for a little more than a week, we came to the last

room, a large one, and it was crowded with furniture covered by

white sheets. David and I never bothered to look under the sheets

while working there, but after we finished and peeked out of curiosity,

we found a number of pieces of very nice, but old furniture. The

owner then asked us to get rid of it, and we quickly said yes. I still

have two pieces, a beautiful antique corner table and a kind of club

chair. It was the very furniture we needed at the time, and I continued

to cart the stuff around for decades. I never could figure out if that

was a miracle or not.

Just before concluding the job, we were asked to paint the front of

the building. I recall doing this alone, since David was on another job,

but one day I was working at the very top of the second story when

some guys showed up and started yelling at me. They were from the

local painter’s union and were angry with me, a non-union worker,

for taking their work. Of course, I had no idea how that could be and

did not even understand about labor unions.

There was nothing else for me to do but continue painting, all the

while trying to ignore them. If I had climbed down off the ladder, a

fistfight would surely have ensued. When they saw I was not budging,

they started to shake the heavy, old, wooden ladder, the top of

which I was perched on. Finally, I had no choice; I descended with just

enough aggression in my manner that they could see I was ready to

fight. Before I reached the ground they fled. It is not always possible

to turn the other cheek—a lesson that stayed with me.

I decided to push my luck and was soon putting ads in the local

paper for more paint jobs. Over the years the union caused me some

grief by throwing paint on jobs I had finished or intimidating those

who had hired me. I had to keep it up, however, as I had a whole house

full of people to feed. Despite all the harassment and threats, the protecting

hand of God was upon us.

Back to David’s Move

David eventually moved to Walnut Creek, over in the East Bay.

There he began Upper Streams, and soon it was a thriving ministry.

After some time there, I think in 1969 or 1970, David packed up with

wife and some of the folks from Upper Streams and moved to Atlanta,

Georgia. David’s ministry grew greatly then, not only in Atlanta, where

they managed to rent the large and majestic former French Embassy,

but they also spread the Jesus Movement to eight additional states,

engaged in street evangelism, founded Christian houses, and started

Bible studies. As far as I know, it was David who really took the Jesus

Movement to the Southern states.

After some time, David invited me to visit him and the work in

Atlanta. I gladly did so, and on one of those trips I met a Roman Catholic

priest named Ed Sweeney in some kind of charismatic fellowship

in Atlanta, and we became good friends right away. As will be seen

in the next chapter, he played a large role in the tragedy that was to


There is much I could say at this point, but I will relate only one

memory. It was of an evening at the Atlanta house when I was preaching.

I stood with my back against the front door and faced the grand

staircase that rose up from the large entry hall. Before me was a minimum

of a hundred, maybe even two hundred kids, taking up every

square foot of room. I don’t think I had ever seen anything like it—a

real outpouring of the Holy Spirit, where hundreds were coming to

know Christ. It far exceeded anything I had seen in northern California’s

Bay Area. The ministry in Atlanta was growing day by day, and I

knew it all was both a huge privilege and a burden for David to manage.

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