By this time we'd already heard about Fred Jordan and the Soul Clinic. Even when we were building the church at Valley Farms, we'd listen to their program. We were really sold on his message and his method and all, and he was fed up with the churches too!
He had this big school in Huntington Park for families. They were sending whole families with little children to the foreign field and had about 300 missionaries! My own denomination wouldn't even send me because I had four! So we kept up with them the whole time. We went to their meetings often while we were there.
We really wanted to go out in the summer in evangelistic work and work for the Lord however we could, and we'd bought this trailer and we were living in it. It was Christmas week and we were home for Christmas vacation from school. I didn't have to drive the bus or anything, and we heard this program inviting us to challenge the Lord.--It was the Soul Clinic!
"Just give everything you've got to the Lord and see if He won't do great things for you to use you" and so on. "Come on! If you've got a family and children, it doesn't matter. We'll take you in, feed you, house you, and send you to the mission field!" Well, that was a pretty tempting offer!
Right then he was begging for missionaries for Israel! Dear Fred, he didn't know anything about Israel. He didn't know it was virtually impossible to go there as a missionary. They passed laws against allowing any new Christian missionaries and adding any additional missionaries, and you couldn't proselytise because Israel's so anti-Christ! Well anyhow, we didn't know that, and I guess the Lord just used it as the bait, because I wanted to go Israel, and he was begging and pleading for missionaries for Israel!
I decided, "well, that's it! I'm fed up with this school business and school bus! I'm going to go to that school!" So I went down and told Mr. Wheeler when we went back to school on Monday to teach, "Mr. Wheeler, I'm giving you notice now, I'll give you two weeks' notice!"--Which was about what they required then, as you got paid every two weeks.
"I want you to find a teacher to take this class as soon as you can. I'm going to that Soul Clinic School". He said, "Well, I understand Dave why you want to go. I know you're a preacher and you want to be a missionary, so I'll do the best I can."
During Christmas week we even went to classes at the Soul Clinic just to see what it was like. Eve would stay home and take care of the kids, but she even went to a few and left the kids with somebody else. I was determined to go: It just sounded great to me and I had a great time! I said,
"If it's the Lord's will for me to go, He'll find a teacher, Mr. WHeeler." And lo and behold you, that afternoon he walked in with two teachers! A couple that had taught there before had just returned and walked in to the school for a visit that afternoon! The husband was a preacher and the wife a preacher's wife and they were out of a job. Here were two teachers, which was what that class needed! He said,
"Well, here they are! God answered your prayer already!"--and I just said, "Thank the Lord!" I started to show him the bus route on the way home that night and the same thing next morning and helped him get adjusted to the class, which was more than they'd done for me! She helped him teach the class too.
I was in classes at the Soul Clinic the next afternoon!--Tuesday afternoon! (Maria: So you just left?)--Boom!--Here they were, just like that! I'd told him I'd go as soon as they could find teachers, and the Lord sent them right in! PTL!--He never fails!
But the Soul Clinic at that time was having a problem with too many families at their school and so many kids, that they said, "We just haven't got room to house you!" Lotti, Fred's sister who handled applicants, said, "We can feed you if you can get to the school building."--That was the big six-story hotel downtown on Skid Row where they had one whole floor devoted to dining room and classroom and all that sort of thing, several floors of dormitories, and the bottom floor was a mission and chapel. She said,
"If you can get here to the school, we can feed you three meals a day in the cafeteria, and you can come to the classes, but you'll have to house yourself. We haven't got another room for another family out at Huntington Park!" They housed the singles downtown and the families out at Huntington Park, and they kept the kids out there during the day while the parents came in to the school.
I said, "Well, we've got our little trailer."--That little black trailer that we bought to travel! We hadn't found our work yet really, but we were trying to prepare for it. We figured, "Well, now we're going to get sent to Israel to be missionaries!--Only a three-month course at the Soul Clinic and they send you to your field by faith!" I thought, "I'm soon going to be in Israel!" So we said,
"we'll stay in our trailer at the trailer park and trust the Lord for the money for the space rent. We'll come in to go to classes."--We had this old taxi cab. She said, "You can leave the kids in the daytime at Huntington Park at the nursery"--that's where Faithy got the lice--"and come on in and we'll feed you. The kids will be fed at the nursery, but we can't house you." So we stayed in our trailer.
We got up early in the morning and ate breakfast together in the trailer. I still had a little money left over in the bank. We'd drive over to the nursery and drop the kids off, and then drive on right downtown to the school. It was always hard to find a place to park, but anyhow, we did. A few times we went in on the streetcar.
We took the Soul Clinic course and they sent us to Texas. We took our trailer and had seven blowouts on the way! Then in Texas we were living in luxury compared to the rest of the missionary trainees: They were living in tents and under tarps and sheets of tin, and some of them just under the trees, roughing it, kind of like the hippies.
The Texas Soul Clinic was supposed to be a missionary testing-ground. A few of those who got there first with families got cabins. But when they ran out of cabins you just had to live out on the grass under the trees, and there wasn't any grass and not much trees! But you were allowed to have a trailer, and we had a trailer. We were living in style compared to the rest of them! Even the cabins didn't have water and everything like we had! So we really had it made!
Oh boy, how I hated that place! The three months we were there were the hottest they had had in years! They had a three months' drought, where it was up to 110 degrees every single day for three months and no rain! When it finally did rain at the end, all that deep dust turned to deep mud! It was horrible, just terrible! I got fed up with the place and the whole thing, and said,
"I don't think this is the way to train missionaries, sitting out here under the hot sun doing nothing, just trying to learn how to survive, not witnessing or anything, because it's too far to town to witness!" I was just going to quit the Soul Clinic and leave!
Even Fred came by and sympathised with us before we left, and sat in our little trailer and gave us $10. I never dreamed I was going to be working for him for 15 years! Since we didn't have anything else to do, I had lots of time to work on my old taxi, and I overhauled the engine, put in new rings and everything so I'd be all ready to leave. I was going to just drive back to Los Angeles.
I thought even teaching school was better than this, even driving a school bus! Because by that time they passed the new laws in Israel that you couldn't go, and there wasn't anyplace else I was interested in going. I thought, "I'll go back to Los Angeles and volunteer to go as a pioneer to a kibbutz!" I thought I'd go that way, because in the early days they were recruiting kibbutzers for the kibbutzes. (Maria: But what did you do at the Soul Clinic then? Did you have classes or anything?) Yes, we had classes every morning at the Texas Soul Clinic.
This old farmer was sort of running TSC (Texas Soul Clinic) at the time and it was mostly classes and meetings and stuff like that. On the weekends they'd go in to witness in the big city. We had a lot of free time. It was mainly a kind of test course in survival. If you could survive at TSC you were doing great!
A lot of people couldn't make it and quit. But a few made it and were appointed missionaries and went to the field. Of course the best promotional cases were what he took first:--Like this one guy with nine children he sent to Okinawa, an ex-serviceman who wanted to go back there and be a missionary to the servicemen. He was a great big guy who looked like John Wayne. He was a character! They finally made him head of the camp. It was an experience anyhow.
If you stuck it out three months they'd give you an appointment, which meant that you could have this paper that showed you were an appointed Soul Clinic missionary. Then you had to go out and spend three to six months still in the States on the road and try to raise your fare and your support in pledges: Your fare in cash and your monthly support of at least two or three hundred dollars in pledges from friends and contacts and church people or whoever.
But by the time that three months was up there at the camp, I was fed up with the whole thing and finished! I didn't even want to have anything to do with the Soul Clinic! I told Lee Shelley who was the missionary director, "I don't think you have to do it this way!
"I think you can go back to the churches and convince them that they should witness! We've just got to take this message to the churches and tell the people. I believe you could get them to go out witnessing and win souls, and I want to be a missionary to the churches now, and I want to go tell them." Meanwhile, I had to figure out something to do. So we drove all the way back to Los Angeles with the car and trailer, and had a big breakdown on the way that delayed us a week!
This story continued in Part VI
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