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Millions of Miles of Miracles

David Berg's life story - part II

By David Brandt Berg - November 29, 1979
Davjd Berg and family on the way to L.A.

Part II: David's experience as a bus driver and school teacher

( Continuation from part I )

After that we felt that the Lord wanted us to go back to Los Angeles to go to a Christian college instead of going to a secular college. I thought maybe if I couldn't be a preacher, maybe I could be a teacher! So we piled all of our stuff on that old Ford! You should have seen it! We had stuff piled on top, a baby bed and everything else, almost as high again as the car was itself! We had the whole inside loaded so full that the stuff was higher than the level of the back of the front seat! We'd sit 3 in the front and then we'd have 3 of the kids spread out flat with just barely enough room to clear between the luggage and the ceiling where they could sleep. They had to lie there even when they were awake because it was the only place there was.

My mother must have known I was discouraged, because we had an invitation from her to come to Los Angeles to visit her while we were getting readjusted and trying to find what we were going to do. She had a fairly good-sized house, and we lived in one end. It had this big very large sort of meeting room where she was trying to open up a church and have meetings. I think she thought we could help her, and we did.

We went there, but it didn't pan out very well. She was still pretty churchy, you know, and we'd kind of broken away from churches. That experience cured me of ever wanting to be a part of the church system again, and so we wanted to move in to town.

Aimee Semple McPherson

Aimee Semple McPherson

The best college I could think of to go to was Life Bible College which was Amiee Semple McPherson's. Mother sort of encouraged that too because she liked Amiee. It was a big college, well known and respected at Angeles Temple. It was Foursquare, a Pentecostal denomination founded by Amiee Semple McPherson.

It was too late to get in on the summer session at Life, as it was called, the Los Angeles Institute of Foursquare Evangelism. It eventually became known as Life Bible College. You know they keep getting hoity-totier all the time. They start off as a little Bible School, then Bible Institute, then become a Bible College, and then finally a Christian University, and eventually nothing at all!

I decided I'd better go into town to get an apartment and try to get a job for the Summer so I'd be ready to go to Bible College in the Fall. You can't even go to Life Bible College or a Christian College for nothing! So as a man with a wife and family I needed a job.

It was really miraculous because we found a little tiny one-bedroom apartment just up this road which sort of wound up into the hills from Life Bible College. It was almost in downtown Los Angeles because the city had grown up around there since she'd built the Temple. When she first built it, it was out there beside a park, Echo Park. But the city had grown so, since she built the Angeles Temple and the college, that the city had built up around it.

When we got settled in the apartment it was almost time for school to begin for the children. So we looked around to find some Christian school to put them in, because we'd had them in Christian schools most of the time, Deborah at least, and now Aaron was ready for school. (Maria: But that costs money, doesn't it?) Well yes, it usually does. But I figured I was going to earn some.

It turned out that "Life" didn't have any provision for children, no academy or Christian school for little kids. It seemed kind of stupid for them not to have any provision for children and send them off to those secular anti-Christ schools in the System!

But there was a Christian school not far away run by some old friends of my mother. She'd been a very good friend of the wife of this man, as I recall, the daughter of the famous Turnbulls. We went to Turnbull's church a good deal while I was there too. That was another thing which had sort of led us more and more into Pentecost previously. They had this Christian School, Evangelistic Temple Christian School, which was even within walking distance!

So we went there to put our kids in school. I can't remember everything that happened in between, but by the time we went there to put our kids in school, school had been on for about five weeks already. When we went to put our kids in school, the school superintendent said, "Well, we take preachers' kids for half price." But he said,

"Say listen, can you drive a bus?" And I said, "Well sure, I'm a good driver. I've been driving all my life." He said, "Well, one of our bus drivers just quit and we're out of a driver for our school bus. I've got all my kids on my hands here and 50 of 'em have got to go home on the bus and I don't know what to do. I've got to get somebody to drive the bus. Have you got a job?" I said, "No, not yet." He said, "Well, I'll give you a job right here!

"I'll let your kids go to school free if you just drive this school bus!" (Maria: Did he pay you too?) Oh yes, of course. I think it was only $150 a month. That was barely enough to live on, but it was enough in those days. I said, "Okay, I'll try." He said, "The driver that's leaving is here. You go study the map with him real quick so you'll know the route before school's out and take all these kids home." Oh me, that was a nightmare!

David Berg before the school bus he drove in LA
David Berg before the school bus he drove in LA

Thank God I knew Los Angeles real well! I knew the streets and everything because I had driven in and around L.A. for years. All I had to do was try to find these kids' houses or the neighborhood that they lived in. In those days they were doing a stupid thing: They were delivering the kids right to their doors, and I didn't believe in delivering any kids right to their doors unless they were real small.--And I finally cured that!

Anyway, the driver went with me and gave me his map of the route. He drove it that night and showed me the routes and where the kids all lived. The next morning he had me drive the bus while he stood beside me and showed me where to pick up all the kids, and then went home with me to see if I could find all the places.

It's quite an art to drive 50 kids home in a city as big as Los Angeles! My whole route was 30 miles long and took me two hours to either pick 'em up or take 'em home! So I started to drive the bus and got paid for it, and the kids got to go to school free! We were happy and we got to be in Los Angeles where there are all kinds of big Gospel meetings and Pentecostal meetings and famous preachers and prophets and all the latest! So we were just like living in Seventh Heaven, and I only had to work about 4 hours a day!

After I brought the kids to school in the morning I'd walk home because it wasn't too far. But sometimes because I liked to read I'd go in the church auditorium and sit down and read. They had a library, and I'd wait for the evening bus run and just watch the kids and do little odd jobs to help the teachers or whatever.

They wanted to hire me also as the janitor and have me do the church during the day, but that didn't exactly appeal to me. Not that I wasn't willing, but I was still looking for some opportunity for fulltime service for the Lord. About 5 weeks after I started driving the bus, poor Brother Wheeler, the Superintendent of the school, came out practically tearing his hair! He said,

"David, David, have you ever taught school?" I said, "Well, I've taught Sunday school and I've preached in churches nearly all my life. I taught Bible classes and I've taught a little bit. One time I taught for two weeks in a public school, but I don't have any credentials. I never did finish my degree or anything." "Oh, that doesn't matter!" he said, "Teachers are born, not made! I want you to come quick and help me! I've got a class of 50 7th and 8th grade students, and the teacher's quitting!" I think it was the 4th teacher that had quit this class that term!

"You've just got to come and teach this class! The teacher, Mrs. Outhouse, is quitting today!" She had been a missionary to Chile, and he said, "You've just got to come! She's leaving as soon as I can find somebody to substitute for her. Just come in and hold the class for a few days until I can find another teacher." I said, "Well, I guess I could do something." He said, "Don't worry, I'll pay you good, pay you good!" Well, I wound up in the long run teaching the class and getting $300 a month, twice as much salary!

I'll never forget the day I walked into that room! I walked in, and she was a great big buxom, I wouldn't say beauty, but red-headed monster almost! She got up when she saw us walk in, and she figured I was the new teacher right away for some reason when he introduced me. She slammed her book on the table in front of these 50 students and said,

Fed up school teacher!"Thank God! I'm going back to Chile where children are civilised and respect the teacher and really want to learn!"--and grabbed her stuff and stomped out of the room! I suppose it was probably true. They were a bunch of rapscallions!--If you can imagine, Los Angeles big-city kids, and a lot of them were practically juvenile delinquents that they'd taken to this school like it was a reformatory!

The first few days of that class were so hectic, I came near to giving up! Here I was driving the school bus two hours ahead in the morning, then teaching school all day for six hours from 9 to 3, then driving the school bus again another two hours from 3 to 5, delivering all the kids home again! On the bus I had all ages, everything from little kids on up to the big bullies!

Hosea was there going to first grade, Deborah was in 5th grade by this time, Aaron was in the 3rd grade and Faithy was still a little kid at home, two or three years old. I got to see my kids everyday at lunchtime or recess. They'd come running in and say, "Hi, Daddy!" and we had a lot of good experiences.

Berg family children
Deb, Faithy, Aaron and Ho about 1951-2 at Calvary Christian School, Los Angeles

But some of those guys were pretty tough and some of the girls were pretty wild! Some'd been sent there because they got kicked out of so many other schools! But their parents were either Christians or Pentecostals. Some of the parents were preachers and their kids were real rapscallions, real disciplinary cases!

If you can imagine, four teachers had quit before me! I was the fifth within five weeks, that's about one a week! But the Lord really helped me and I just sort of clowned around for the kids, you know how I do, and they sort of liked me. But I didn't even know where we were in the books or anything!

Aaron in third grade
Aaron, back row left, standing, already singing tenor in 3rd grade, Calvary Christian School

On top of all that, half the night I had to study the books to try to catch up with the kids and stay at least one lesson ahead of them so I could be ready to give them their next assignment, and that was really a job!--Teaching two classes, both the 7th and 8th grades, about 25 kids in each class. It was almost impossible!--In one room!

It was a hectic situation! One morning I got up to shave before going to school and driving the bus, and I just said, "Lord, I can't take it! I'm just going to have a nervous or physical breakdown!" I said, "Lord, it's just too hard!"

Desperate David Berg

Suddenly as I was looking in the mirror that Scripture came to me, "Therefore endure hardness"!--I was just telling the Lord it was too hard, and the Scripture said, "Therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!" (2Tim.2:3.) It was just the answer I needed! I needed to keep fighting and fight a good fight and endure hardness! And you know, that morning I really got the victory to quit worrying about it being so hard!

I got the victory and I really fought and it just seemed like everything sort of began to be better! I knew the route real well and I got it really organised. I made the kids get out there waiting for me instead of my having to stand at the curb waiting for them, and at more convenient stops.

I figured out pickup-spots and a new bus route. I'd go right to the house for the little kids that were just low graders, but for the bigger kids I didn't see any reason why they couldn't stand out at the corner like all the other school kids and wait for their school bus. I said, "You be here at such and such a time, and that's when I'll pick you up. If you're not here I'll just go sailing on by and forget it!"

Before, I'd used to have to stand out five or ten minutes waiting for them to finish their breakfast or get dressed or something, because the mother was late and blah blah! I just got fed up and wouldn't put up with that anymore! I said, "You be out here, and if I don't see you on this corner, if you're not in sight..!" Sometimes they would be running down the block, and if I could see them coming I'd stop of course, "...but if I can't see you, I'll go right on by, and your folks can bring you to school or you can have a holiday!" So I got the bus route really organised. I even got it boiled down to about an hour-and-a-half every morning and evening.--And

I taught school all day, and I finally got to where I really enjoyed it! I lasted nearly 3 years there! I got double the salary of the other teachers: They just got $150 for teaching, and I got $150 for driving the bus and $150 for teaching school! So I got $300 a month, and that was good wages in those days! So I was soon able to buy a house and furnish it. We also bought a trailer, getting ready to go back out in evangelistic work, and we'd go out every summer. We went out the two summers in between, and then finally in the third year left. (Continue to part III, training at the Soul Clinic


Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family International


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James Arendt

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