By Kathi Pelton
What memories the movie “Jesus Revolution” brought back!! Here’s a quick testimony of my story…
I was born and raised in California during the 70’s. My family was not saved and the 70’s was not a great influence on my parents. Drinking, pot, pills, “free love” and the lifestyle of the day took its toll on my parents and family.
During that time, a born again hippie and his young wife became Campus Life leaders in our city. One night they met me as a young teen that was out with my boyfriend— they immediately saw how lost I was and began to tell me about this Jesus that they knew.
This Jesus message intrigued me, like it did for Greg Laurie in the movie— but I was also skeptical about this being another false hope. And these people were so sold out and radical that I feared having to give up my boyfriend, lifestyle and the “cheap love” that had become a substitute for no love. Would Jesus truly be enough for me?
Then this Jesus loving hippie couple convinced me to go to a three day Jesus camp in Santa Barbara, California. It was just like in the movie— bell bottoms, long dresses, long haired girls and boys with long sideburns, and everyone carrying big Bibles and wearing big wooden crosses around their necks. I walked into the meeting the first evening there and the music that came forth was like nothing I’d ever heard before. I began weeping and for the next three days I encountered the love of Jesus through these radical teens and young adults on the beaches of Santa Barbara. I had no idea that there was a resurrected Savior that loved me. I had only known about a statue of a man on a cross that hung in a church when I was very young. I didn’t know that he was real or living.
A radical born-again girl named Jean was also at this camp. She took me under her wing during those three days. She gave me one of those big Bible along with 8-track albums by Love Song, 2nd Chapter of Acts and Keith Green. I held that Bible like my life depended on it (it did!)— I didn’t read it— just held it like a drowning person with a life preserver.
On the bus ride home from the three days on the beaches of Santa Barbara, I cried the whole way back to my city because I knew what I was going back to. A boyfriend with unholy expectations of me being the same person who would do anything or say anything just so that I was not alone. And my home had parents that were immersed in the free-love lifestyle that had ruined their marriage and create absolute chaos in our family. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t leaving Jesus in Santa Barbara. I didn’t know that He would come home with me.
Unfortunately, I went right back into what I knew but for the next few years I secretly attended a church (not every Sunday but when I became desperate). I would also pull out the Bible that was kept secretly under my mattress and I’d soak in the words (often not understanding them) and hold onto it as if the book was alive. I kept those 8-track Jesus albums under the passenger seat of my car and if I had been drinking too much or if I was hurting I’d pull out one of them and my yellow Chevy Vega would become my church as I’d let the words of the songs wash over me until the pain was gone.
During my senior year of high school my parents had divorced (again) and I was living with my dad. He had become very distraught about his life. He drank constantly to numb his pain and was a man filled with rage and regrets. One day I saw him sitting on our back deck with a drink in one hand and his gun in the other. I rushed out to him and without thought or hesitation I began to tell him about ”this Savior named Jesus” that I had experienced. I told him about the music and about the church that I’d sneak into and about the words I’d heard. Through tears my dad said, “Take me to that church.”
The next morning my dad and I went to church and he literally ran to the altar to be saved. Later that day, with a beer in his hand, he got filled with the Holy Spirit and delivered from alcoholism. No one prayed for him— God just showed up in his desperate cry for help. Two days later he found my mom (who was in such a destructive relationship with a hippie who was in jail for attempt murder) and he brought her to church— and she got saved along with my little brother (who would
later become a minister). They were remarried the following Sunday at the evening service and our whole family got baptized— although I still had not fully surrendered my life to Jesus because I didn’t think I could change my ways.
A few days after my 18th birthday and high school graduation I had a huge loss come upon my life and through that loss I once again pulled out that Jesus music. My now-saved dad had earlier taken me to the local Christian store and bought me an even bigger Bible with a leather fish on it and new Jesus music in cassette form— and I didn’t have to hide them anymore. I put the Keith Green album in my car stereo that day and suddenly my car steering wheel became an altar for me. This time, in that yellow Chevy Vega on a California highway— I fully surrendered my life to Jesus!
I asked Him to please keep me away from all the things that had kept me from Him before— sex, alcohol, pills and an inability to say no. That same week my family moved to a city near San Francisco to start a new life away from all the trappings they had known. Jesus kept His promise to protect me from “me.” Every person I met was born again! I was taken to an amazing church with a huge amount of people my age that loved Jesus. A sold out to Christ 21-year old boy felt led by the Holy Spirit to spend time with me day after day to teach me about Jesus, the Bible and about purity.
Then, six months later, I began dating my husband, Jeff— who also got saved in the Jesus movement. We married when I was 19 years old and went off to Bible college together to become missionaries. We’ve now been married 40 years and served Jesus in ministry our entire marriage.
I am just one life that was transformed by the Jesus movement of the 70’s.
May the sold-out, no compromise, move of God that pours the love of God upon a lost world happen once again! And may it come upon all the nations.
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