Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher   View more episodes

Aired at 03:00 AM on Saturday, Aug 15, 2009 (8/15/2009)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:01 ♪♪
00:00:09 ♪♪
00:00:13♪♪ that like the world gives ♪♪
00:00:17 ♪♪♪♪
00:00:23( Crowd Noise ) Lonnie: I kind of relate to john the baptist down in the wilderness baptizing in the river jordan, sometimes.
00:00:33It's really neat to see how each one reacts in a different way.
00:00:37But I can feel the presence of god coming down upon me and upon the person being baptized, and just all over the place.
00:00:45( Crowd Noise & Laughter ) Narrator: Lonnie frisbee was a hippie seeker WHO CAME OF AGE DURING THE 1960s.
00:00:58At the end of his quest for truth he embraced jesus christ and became a christian.
00:01:03One of the young men, kathryn, who's been so used of god is lonnie frisbee.
00:01:09And I wonder if lonnie could just share with us some now.
00:01:16.. the people tell me that I'm trying to look like jesus.
00:01:21I can't think of anybody else I'd rather look like.
00:01:24( Laughter ) Narrator: He became influential in the southern california evangelical scene, sparking the rise of two denominations that planted churches across the southwestern united states.
00:01:36And the church, for so long, has been expecting a certain mold of what a christian should look like or what a christian should be or what a christian should say, ..
00:01:51( Laughter ) ...Because he's saving the hippies.
00:01:56And nobody thought a hippie could be saved.
00:01:59( Laughter ) (♪♪ Music ♪♪) Male Singer: ♪♪ Behold, a sower went forth to sow, ♪♪
00:02:05 ♪♪
00:02:09♪♪hoping on hope that he might see it grow.
00:02:15♪♪knowing that the harvest might well come before the bloom, ♪♪
00:02:23♪♪ he runs on his way, ♪♪
00:02:24 ♪♪
00:02:29♪♪ hurry, take what you got, ♪♪
00:02:32 ♪♪
00:02:36♪♪ 'cause the good god in heaven s ♪♪♪♪
00:02:45Narrator: Raised in a troubled home, lonnie found his escape in painting, dance and fantasy until he responded to the lure of the counterculture.
00:02:56Lonnie: I went into high school and I started having problems at home, and I ran away from home.
00:03:02And the first night I ran away from home I dropped lsd.
00:03:07That was really something else.
00:03:09And I started taking a lot of psychedelic drugs, and smoking grass and searching for god.
00:03:18Narrator: Typical of the emerging hippie generation was the thirst after knowledge through direct ..
00:03:25Turning the body into a laboratory for chemical, sexual and spiritual experimentation.
00:03:31And I found myself going into the cults; edgar cayce, flying saucers, drugs, marijuana and lsd, metaphysical meditation, hypnotism.
00:03:44All the different things that went along with the mystics. just wasn't quite enough for me, ..
00:03:54Male Singer: ♪♪ I was on a search for heavenly ♪♪
00:04:00♪♪ I smoked a lot of cannabis ♪♪
00:04:04♪♪ but it did not help me; ♪♪
00:04:07 ♪♪♪♪
00:04:10Narrator: One of the ironic twists of the 1960s Was that many openly stated that drugs, lsd in particular, played a large part in their experience of christian salvation.
00:04:21So we drove out to tahquitz falls, and we hiked up-- he wanted to go to the very top fall.
00:04:27And once we got there, he opened his backpack and he spread out.
00:04:32And he had lsd and he had marijuana and he had all of his oil paints.
00:04:37And he proceeded to paint a picture of jesus on the rock, a full-sized picture of jesus on the rock.
00:04:44Then he pulled out his bible and he got kind of in a yoga position, and he said, "we're gonna read the bible " he was reading about john the baptist and how john the baptist baptized.
00:04:54And he baptized us up at tahquitz falls, even though we were all on drugs.
00:04:59Male Singer: ♪♪ Now wouldn't it be a drag if everything you had ♪♪
00:05:04 ♪♪
00:05:09♪♪ and what if you worked all your life, ♪♪
00:05:11♪♪ made a lot of money and even had a wife, ♪♪
00:05:14♪♪ and that be taken away; ♪♪
00:05:16 ♪♪
00:05:18♪♪ now wouldn't it be kind of sad, ♪♪
00:05:20♪♪ while you were thinking you weren't that bad, ♪♪
00:05:23♪♪ jesus gazed at you and said, ♪♪
00:05:25♪♪ depart from me into the everlastin' fiery ♪♪♪♪
00:05:28I took my lsd, laid down on the floor a couple hours and when I could get together to get up, I got up as a christian.
00:05:34It's just that simple.
00:05:36♪♪ Now wouldn't it be kinda nice ♪♪
00:05:39♪♪ if you'd just think twice ♪♪
00:05:41 ♪♪
00:05:45♪♪ people are starting to open their eyes, ♪♪
00:05:48♪♪ they're getting fed up with all these lies ♪♪
00:05:50 ♪♪
00:05:55♪♪ they're starting to see hope in one, ♪♪
00:05:57♪♪ jesus christ and all he's done, ♪♪
00:05:59 ♪♪
00:06:01♪♪ you're set free with love from the son, ♪♪
00:06:06 ♪♪
00:06:08 ♪♪
00:06:10 ♪♪
00:06:12.. ♪♪♪♪
00:06:17Narrator: Sometime in 1967, at the age of 17, lonnie frisbee took another trip into tahquitz canyon.
00:06:24There, he took a hit of lsd, removed his clothing and began to pray in a relatively unorthodox but sincere manner.
00:06:32He would later recount that it was here that god came to him in a vision and told him of the unique role that he was soon to play.
00:06:42Male Singer: ♪♪ Samson was a man with some great big muscles; ♪♪
00:06:46♪♪ seemed to always get himself in all kinds ♪♪
00:06:51♪♪ the power of god was heavy on his life, ♪♪
00:06:54♪♪ but it only caused him tremendous strife.
00:06:58♪♪ now samson knew that god had called his name; ♪♪
00:07:02♪♪ that his power was tied to his long, flowing ♪♪
00:07:06♪♪ he was filled with the spirit; ♪♪
00:07:08♪♪ with lions and philistines he fights; ♪♪
00:07:12♪♪ became leader of them stubborn israelites.
00:07:17Neal Liebig: He said he saw, like, the pacific ocean, emptied out of water but filled with people raising their hands, crying out to god to be saved.
00:07:29He said he saw a sea of humanity crying out to the lord.
00:07:36He said the lord told him that he would have a unique ministry and that he was not to be afraid.
00:07:44Lonnie: When the lord called me, I was going into the desert and I was taking all my clothes off, and I'm going, "god, if you're really real, reveal yourself " and one afternoon, the whole atmosphere of this canyon that I was in started to tingle and get light and it started to change and I'm just going, " ( Laughter ) I didn't want to be there.
00:08:06All of a sudden, the spirit of god hit him hard and he went almost into a trance, and he saw himself standing up there with a bible and he was preaching the gospel powerfully to young people.
00:08:18And god told him he was going to use him to bring young people to christ.
00:08:21Lonnie: And then the lord showed me that there was a light on me, that he was placing on my life, and it was jesus christ and I was going to go bear the word of the lord.
00:08:31Narrator: The history of human spirituality is full of moments like those, where the recipient claims to receive a message from god.
00:08:40But the significance of these events is not found in the vision of light or the burning bush, but rather what happens afterward; the tremendous zeal by which the person embraces the calling.
00:08:53Whatever happened to lonnie frisbee in that canyon that day so transformed him that it shaped the course of his entire life.
00:09:03He just changed my life.
00:09:05I entered into something " I was transformed on the inside.
00:09:11I became a new creaturein christ jesus and the old things pa, I startedtelling other people about it.
00:09:18I wanted everybody to experiencethe experience of jesus christ, that when I first turned on to drugs I thought that was the truth, so I turned everyone on to drugs.
00:09:28Male Singer: ♪♪ I've put away my rolling papers ♪♪
00:09:40I started telling everybody about jesus, and that resulted in-- I lost everybody.
00:09:47( Chuckling ) I lost my parents and my brothers and friends.
00:09:51All my friends, they just left me.
00:09:53They marked me off as a fanatic and I was crazy, and I'd flipped out on another trip, just maybe like what I did when I was on lsd.
00:10:02Except this lasted and it was real and it was solidand it changed my life.
00:10:07And I immediately started to grow my hair a little bit longer than it was.
00:10:12So I really looked like isaiah's grandson.
00:10:15( Laughter ) francis of assisi shirts with hoods on them, and wore robes and things like that.
00:10:25Narrator: Energized by this experience, lonnie immediately started telling others about this dramatic encounter.
00:10:32He left southercalifornia accepting a scholarship to the academy of arts in san francisco, putting him in the middle of the city's emerging haight-ashbury district.
00:10:43It was here that he came into contact with a group of new converts who, in response to their reading of the new testament, had sold all their possessions and decided to live together in a christian commune called the big house.
00:10:58And I was confronted with the fact that I was always putting down jesus and saying that they probably had it aed up or anything, but I never actually read the new testament, you know.
00:11:10So I did, and I really liked jesus but he was so different than I thought he was.
00:11:17It was a complete surprise to me.
00:11:20He was so cool, I mean-- I would have thought-- from what I had heard around from christian people-- that he was a sergeant in the marine corps, you know.
00:11:32( Laughing ) It was, you know-- or at least a republican, you know.
00:11:37Narration: Wanting to reach out to others seeking after truth, the members of the big house opened a storefront crash pad called the living room.
00:11:46Located in the heart of the haight-ashbury district.
00:11:49Every day they would make the half-hour drive from novato to the living room, to invite the locals in for conversation and soup.
00:11:57The kids around novato began knowing that, you know, they heard the word out that there was a hippie community.
00:12:04I don't think they realized when we said "christian" what we really meant; how christian we were.
00:12:09Steve Heefner: Then, there became the opportunity to open a nice little store on haight-ashbury where we could serve soup and where we could meet kids and talk about what seemed to be the most important thing.
00:12:20We were, 24 hours a day, trying to figure the lord out, or trying to figure ourselves out relative to the lord.
00:12:27Narrator: It was on one of their trips through the haight, they ran into lonnie frisbee fresh from his experience in tahquitz canyon.
00:12:36We met a fellow and he's in this situation, he's living-- he wants to move out or something but we can bring him home a few days and-- Ted Wise: Some of the times he would be talking about jesus being a person from another world, you know, he came out of a flying saucer at other times-- which is not unusual in those days.
00:12:54Narrator: Invited to live at the big house and participate in their experiment in christian community, lonnie was steered toward a more orthodox understanding of christianity.
00:13:05But his thirst for experimentation did not stop.
00:13:09He found affinity with pentecostal preachers whose sermons focused on dramatic spiritual encounters and miracles.
00:13:17He said, "well, have you been baptized " " " " I felt the spirit of god come down upon me in such a powerful way, and lonnie was kind of encouraging me to start speaking in this unknown prayer language.
00:13:40( Sakinin the Spirit ) Male CBS News Commentator: The turning to jesus takes many forms.
00:13:47In his little church in redondo beach, the youngsters come to pray in what they believe to be ancient tongues, ..
00:13:55Unintelligible in modern american.
00:13:58( Prayers Continue ) Steve Toth: For 45 minutes I had my hands in the air .. the power of the holy spirit.
00:14:10And then at one time lonnie had a feeling that if he took his deerskin-- of course, he was a little eccentric-- we probably all were-- and he painted a picture or likeness of either jesus or himself.
00:14:21It's debatable.
00:14:22( Sandy Laughs ) And he put that-- and he wore it around his shoulders, and that was pretty good.
00:14:27Lonnie: And I got a deerskin to be my mantles, and I painted a picture of jesus on it and I wore it like a cape.
00:14:35( Laughter ) So when I would pray for people and the spirit of god would come on them, I'd take off my cape and throw the mantle over the top of them like this.
00:14:50( Laughter & Applause ) But then he got the idea that if he put this sheet over people they would manifest holy spirit and begin speaking in other tongues.
00:15:00And it did a few-- this happened that way a few times.
00:15:03A couple times.
00:15:04A few--early, you know, then he thought, this is how the holy spirit-- this is his ministry!
00:15:08Narrator: One day, lonnie announced to the members of the big house that he was going to hitchhike down to southern california, to reconnect with a girl that he had known from his drug days.
00:15:18He came back down looking for me because he told them that he was going to go get the girl ..
00:15:24Which was news to me.
00:15:26So he's talking to me about jesus and he's reading to me out of the bible, he goes, "are you ready to accept jesus christ " and, um, it was like everything just made complete and total sense to me.
00:15:39And I said, "yes," and he took me down into that pool of water and he baptized me.
00:15:44And he said, "i've got to take you and introduce you to some people.
00:15:48And so, there I go, with everything I owned in my little backpack, up to novato and moved into the big house.
00:15:58Male Singer: ♪♪ Then a man dressed up in a robe ♪♪ stood up and said, ♪♪
00:16:02♪♪ 2,000 years ago I rose from the dead ♪♪
00:16:08♪♪ but you men won't listen, you're just ♪♪
00:16:12♪♪ so I'll tell you one more time again.
00:16:15♪♪ he pointed his finger and this is what he said, ♪♪
00:16:19.. ♪♪
00:16:21 ♪♪♪♪
00:16:22Connie: I lived there for almost a year before he proposed.
00:16:25He didn't tell me that he wanted to marry me because he loved me so dearly, I don't know what I was thinking.
00:16:31I think it was because he asked me and i said yes.
00:16:36Male Singer: ♪♪ My poor generation ♪♪
00:16:40 ♪♪
00:16:43.. ♪♪♪♪
00:16:46Narrator: A feature article on the members of the big house in the january 1968 issue ofchristian life magazine caused quite a stir in christian circles.
00:16:57The article landed in the hands of pastor named chuck smith who was wrestling with his feelings toward the hippies.
00:17:05Pastor Chuck Smith: Back in the late '60s when our conservative orange county was being shaken by hundreds of long-haired kids-- because we had children of our own that were in high school and college my wife was deeply concerned.
00:17:26laguna beach and watch all these hippies walking along, and wondering if there was any way to reach them.
00:17:35And I remember chuck said, "kay, you know, it's too late.
00:17:40"They're too far gone.
00:17:41" and he said that kay just broke down and started crying " Pastor Smith: My feeling was, "dirty hippies, " ( Laughter ) Narrator: Becoming something of an itinerate missionary, lonnie frisbee had been hitchhiking from northern california to orange county when a chance meeting landed him on the front steps of pastor chick smith's house.
00:18:07After struggling for 17 years, never being able to gather a significant congregation, smith was contemplating leaving the ministry when lonnie frisbee walked into his life.
00:18:18Pastor Smith:00 our doorbell rang and there was john, the young fellow who had been dating our daughter, and with him, a real, honest-to-goodness hippie.
00:18:34( Laughter ) Long hair, beard, flowers in his hair, bells on the cuffs of his pants, barefooted.
00:18:47And john said, "chuck, I want you to meet " ( Laughter ) Narrator: The meeting between the straight, conservative pastor and the street-level evangelist was electric.
00:18:59Smith's comments hint that something otherworldly took place when the two met.
00:19:04Pastor Smith: And lonnie extended his hand, and there was such a warmth and love manifested in his greeting, I was caught off guard.
00:19:16There was an instant bond.
00:19:19There was a power of god's spirit upon his life that was very easily recognized.
00:19:26My parents were fascinated with him, fascinated with his understanding of scriptures.
00:19:30He talked, like, scripture was today, it was right now.
00:19:34So he came to church that sunday night, and the church was real small-- at that time on sunday evening, there might be 30 people, 40 people on a good night-- and lonnie made a hit.
00:19:45I mean, my parents begged him to come back.
00:19:47Male Singers: ♪♪ We invite you all to come with us ♪♪
00:19:50 ♪♪
00:19:53♪♪ come along and sing with us ♪♪
00:19:55 ♪♪
00:19:58♪♪ singing praises from our hearts, ♪♪
00:20:00♪♪ we'll walk with god this day, ♪♪
00:20:04♪♪ lifting up our voices we'll sing a song ♪♪♪♪
00:20:08Narrator: During the first calvary chapel service that lonnie and connie frisbee attended, kay smith, the wife of the pastor, uttered a prophecy, which some christians believe to be the direct communication from god.
00:20:20I believe that that night my mom received a prophecy about lonnie and connie having a very broad impact, like a worldwide impact, to their ministry.
00:20:32Lonnie: And one night we were sharing our testimony in the church for the first time.
00:20:37And we were at the altar praying that night, there were 15 of us at the altar praying, and the spirit of god came through a prophecy with kay smith and said to us, "because of your praise and adoration "before my throne tonight, I'm going to bless the whole coast of california," and I thought, "whoo!
00:20:59" ( Laughter ) And when we started to receive the word, as from god, the spirit of the lord fell upon us and we began to weep.
00:21:12And the lord began to give people visions of that prophecy.
00:21:16And then the lord continued on to say that it was going to move across the united states and then go to the different parts of the world.
00:21:25Male Singer: ♪♪ Some seed fell by the wayside, ♪♪
00:21:29♪♪ some of it fell among thorns, ♪♪
00:21:33 ♪♪
00:21:39♪♪ these would never bring forth fruit ♪♪
00:21:42♪♪ for they would not believe that when the sower was gone, ♪♪
00:21:47 ♪♪
00:21:52♪♪ hurry, take what you've got, ♪♪
00:21:55 ♪♪
00:21:59♪♪ 'cause the good god in heaven ♪♪
00:22:02 ♪♪♪♪
00:22:07my dad and mom were so convinced that this was a wave of god's spirit and that all of these people coming to christ represented the new church.
00:22:16For the first four years that I was there, all he preached on was love.
00:22:20Because love at that time had so many different meanings.
00:22:24And I think chuck hit the nail on the head, " " Narrator: Rather amazingly, the experiment worked.
00:22:37The zeal of the newly-saved hippie preacher started to pay dividends as the church started to grow.
00:22:42Chuck Smith, Jr.: Lonnie was teaching on wednesday nights and his bible studies would just pack out with hippies, with counterculture, they were all there.
00:22:52For a lot of the hippies he embodied, you know, at least the image of jesus and there weren't five guys like him, there was just lonnie.
00:22:59He was the guy you looked to and you said, " the doors blew open at that point and calvary grew from about 200 to 2,000 in about six-month period.
00:23:08And that was the beginning of what is now history.
00:23:12Narrator: Throughout the bible we are confronted with historical figures said to have held special powers, granted by god to perform acts that promote faith but defy rational explanation.
00:23:25Early on he was a little whacked out, but he was powerful.
00:23:29God's anointing always got on him, people copied him, tried their best to do like he did.
00:23:35Lonnie gets up on this bench and he yells-- here's this little skinny guy with long hair-- and he yells, "hey! hey! god loves you!
00:23:45" and all tse people just got up off their towels and walked forward and got down-- and they were weeping-- as he was leading them to the lord.
00:23:53And this woman leads-- she starts leading this man in and she said, "we were over at calvary chapel "and they told us to come over here that somebody would pray for my husband, " and I went, "here we go, this is going to be good " he looks at the guy and he goes, " and the man got his sight back.
00:24:19I was scared to be with lonnie because my faith, born out of lutheran tradition, meant that you had a certain level of norwegian social grace involved in your relationships.
00:24:33To be with lonnie was not to be safe.
00:24:36And everywhere lonnie would be, god was doing things.
00:24:41And it was almost like kind of a fun thing to do, to sit there and watch when the anointing would hit him.
00:24:46Because it was like two different people, you know.
00:24:49He was goofy and kind of-- almost embarrassing when he was himself.
00:24:54And then, all of a sudden, at some point, the spirit would hit him and, all of a sudden, this authority would come on him and he would speak with absolute authority.
00:25:01Male Singers: ♪♪ Things won't ever be the way they used to be ♪♪
00:25:05.. ♪♪
00:25:10♪♪magic man ♪♪♪♪
00:25:11Narrator: Conservative christians, especially pentecostals, will use the catchphrase "anointing" to describe these unique individuals.
00:25:19An anointed person is recognized by the power and presence of god upon their life.
00:25:26Lonnie was just running to catch up, you know, it was just--whatever he did it seemed to just-- these miracles and phenomenal things happened.
00:25:35Lonnie didn't ever try to force that.
00:25:37I don't know anybody else who I've ever felt this way about, and I'm rather skeptical today when it comes to, you know, claims to the charismatic; but with lonnie it was like walking with an apostle, someone who was tuned into a divine frequency.
00:25:57I watched him very closely; I watched off to the side, looking for anything phony that I could, anything artificial, any pretense I could.
00:26:06And I never saw it.
00:26:07People would fall down in the spirit.
00:26:10And then I started hearing stories about healings that lasted.
00:26:14Lonnie didn't put on any pretenses like other preachers did.
00:26:18He didn't ask for money and I kept looking for all of that stuff.
00:26:21He was true-blue, and I loved that.
00:26:24He spoke his mind.
00:26:25He didn't care what he said.
00:26:28And that was a big impression on me, that, "this guy's got the power of god, " Narrator: As calvary chapel began to experience growing pains, the relationship between chuck smith and lonnie began to change.
00:26:42My mom and dad always had, you know, this theology, this pentecostal theology, but they had-- there were things of the practice of pentecostalism that they did not feel comfortable with.
00:26:56And he told lonnie, he said, "if you pray for people and they fall down, " he did not want this happening in calvary chapel.
00:27:03And so lonnie goes, "debbie, we can't let " so we'd be praying for people and holding them by the hair to hold them up so that they couldn't fall.
00:27:10Narrator: The relationship between lonnie and connie also began to strain.
00:27:14As lonnie continued to spend every waking moment involved in ministry activities.
00:27:20My dad's philosophy of ministry had harmed lonnie and connie's marriage.
00:27:29I know that lonnie and connie both had talked to my dad about this.
00:27:33Connie Bremer-Murray: I remember making the appointment and he asked me what it was for " ..
00:27:43And then chuck smith told-- looked at me and he said, "the only thing that's important right now, connie, " and my dad's belief was that the hierarchy of values was: God, ministry, family.
00:28:01And I could just tell that lonnie now had a carte blanche to be as irresponsible as he wanted to be.
00:28:10And that's when I felt like I was fighting god for my husband's attention.
00:28:18Narrator: Feeling that his brand of pentecostal ministry wasn't being appreciated, lonnie accepted an invitation from another ministry to leave calvary chapel.
00:28:29The church claimed that lonnie had left calvary chapel to work on his marriage, but this simply wasn't the case.
00:28:36Lonnie felt that chuck smith's restrictions were too stringent.
00:28:40Around calvary chapel we felt lonnie's leaving was a great betrayal.
00:28:45I mean, I know the feelings of all of us.
00:28:48It actually left a lot of painful wounds in calvary chapel and a very negative feeling towards lonnie.
00:28:55Narrator: But leaving calvary chapel was not as he planned.
00:29:00And only four years after he had left, lonnie made a phone call to chuck smith, asking to return.
00:29:06And the next time I saw lonnie frisbee, I could not believe it.
00:29:11He was an assistant pastor at calvary chapel.
00:29:17He was in a three-piece suit and a manicured beard.
00:29:22But no doubt about it, my spiritual reaction was, he's been incarcerated.
00:29:29My dad did open the door for him, put him on staff, had him do afterglows, believers' meetings.
00:29:37And yet, I would say that it was very, very different.
00:29:43Narrator: In only four short years, calvary chapel had expanded into a movement, with satellite locations all over the southwestern united states.
00:29:53Chuck smith had replaced the aggressive pentecostal dynamic with a focus on bible teaching.
00:30:00And rather quickly, lonnie realized he was an uneasy fit, and started to look for other outlets to express his more aggressive pentecostalism.
00:30:09He found a kindred spirit in john wimber, the pastor of a calvary chapel satellite location in yorba linda, california.
00:30:18Lonnie: John and I met three years ago at the pastor's conference and the lord told us that he was going to join us together and it's taken three years to do it because I'm a chicken.
00:30:28We started circling the calvary chapel of yorba linda.
00:30:32John wimber and carol asked lonnie to come over for dinner.
00:30:36So I was lonnie's roommate, so I went with him.
00:30:38He says, "i think that I would like for you "to take a sunday night.
00:30:44" Narrator: At the time of his invitation to lonnie frisbee, the question on john wimber's mind was simple.
00:30:53Why were the miracles he read in the new testament not happen Lonnie: I think the lord's going to meet us tonight in a special way, so I want you to be in expectancy for a move of the spirit of god.
00:31:07He asked people 25 and under to come forward.
00:31:10And so we hadall these young people, probably 300 or so go forward.
00:31:16" almost immediately, everybody just fell on the floor.
00:31:24Lonnie: There's a tremendous outpouring of the spirit of god upon the young people here.
00:31:30The spirit of the lord is moving upon these girls right here.
00:31:33And one of the kids-- his name's ricky-- when he fell to the floor, he pulled the microphone down.
00:31:39Well, a lot of them started speaking in tongues, others were crying, but the sound was shocking.
00:31:46( Chuckling ) AND WE--I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT To do.
00:31:50I stared at this whole thing.
00:31:51I didn't know lonnie.
00:31:53John was shocked.
00:31:55He was sitting there.
00:31:56He's trying to figure out what's going on.
00:31:57A lot of people got up and left, and they were angry and whatever.
00:32:01Narrator: Even though wimber and his church members had been praying to see god move in their presence, there was a considerable uproar the day after lonnie preached on that mother's day meeting in 1980.
00:32:14We had to have a special meeting a couple of days later with all the elders.
00:32:20They want to know, " lonnie comes back up and disrupts john and says, "listen, the lord just spoke to me.
00:32:27"I don't care what kind of issues you have here.
00:32:30"What needs to happen is " Narrator: In the aftermath of the mother's day event, wimber took the opportunity to create his own movement, differentiating themselves from calvary chapel along theological lines.
00:32:44He took leadership of a fledgling denomination called the vineyard, enticing a number of calvary chapel churches to change their affiliation and take on a more aggressive pentecostal outlook.
00:32:55Steve Zarit: So john would speak and lonnie would minister, they were the dynamic duo.
00:33:00Lonnie got up there and he'd wave his leather coat and the power of god would come and people would be fallingall over these old pews in these baptist churches.
00:33:12And lonnie would start climbing over the pews and laying hands on people, and he'd say, "speak in tongues, speak in " and he'd hit them in the forehead.
00:33:19And they'd instantly begin to speak in tongues.
00:33:23So I was blown away by that.
00:33:25So I came to the vineyard one night and I had my mother with me that night.
00:33:29Something had happened in her mouth and she had broken out with black lesions on her tongue and on the roof of her mouth and all on her gums.
00:33:37And lonnie walked up to us and said, " and, all of a sudden, lonnie steps back and he says, "you foul spirit!
00:33:45"In the name of jesus, I command you to come out of that woman," and my mom started coughing and then hacking and retching and when she stopped, her mouth was healed.
00:33:55" Narrator: For many, accounts of miracles are met with skepticism in an age when religion has been associated with fraud and deception.
00:34:08Oh, hallelujah! thank you, jesus!
00:34:09Oh, hallelujah! thank you, jesus!
00:34:12Hallelujah! hallelujah!
00:34:15If it's a $20 bill is the largest bill you've got, then I want you to get that out.
00:34:19If it's a ten, I want you to get that out.
00:34:21If it's only a dollar bill, I want you to get that out.
00:34:25I said, ♪♪ are your garments spotless, are they white ♪♪
00:34:30thank you, jesus!
00:34:31♪♪ Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
00:34:34Narrator: Even some christians find it difficult to separate the credible from the counterfeit.
00:34:39But the stories about lonnie have a different feel to them.
00:34:43Even those who were ambivalent toward him as a person, shake their head in wonder as they recount what they saw with their own eyes.
00:34:50"You, right there," he starts going, "the holy spirit is coming upon you right " " I was just starting to get baptized and filled with the holy spirit.
00:35:01I mean, none of this could have been suggestion-- you had no paradigm for it.
00:35:06--Hypnotism, nothing, 'cause I had-- I didn't know what was happening.
00:35:09It was happening to me and I didn't know it, and it started before he even got close to me.
00:35:14Never manipulated, never tried to make anything happen.
00:35:17Never did anything.
00:35:18And then lifted up his hands, like this, and just pointed towards people and said, " Narrator: Though little credit is given to lonnie, he was influential in the formation of what the vineyard church movement called the signs and wonders theology; a paradigm of teaching that suggests that all christians could operate in a similar manner to lonnie, that they, too, could perform miracles like they'd read in the new testament.
00:35:50As with his tenure at calvary chapel, lonnie was at the vineyard church for only a few years, but, once again, he provided the initial spark that ignited a tremendous attendance growth and subsequent formation of a church movement.
00:36:03Male Singers: ♪♪ The blazing sun, the morning star, ♪♪
00:36:07♪♪ the spirit to lead the way, ♪♪
00:36:09♪♪ all fade together to feed the gentle faith.
00:36:15♪♪ I fear my soul's in darkness ♪♪
00:36:17♪♪ so I come here to pray to you, my beloved ♪♪
00:36:25.. my beloved jesus.
00:36:33I got a telephone call one day that this young man who was in the church here in laguna beach ..bad, really convicted, really guilty.
00:36:48And he confided in his pastor that he had had a six-month affair with lonnie.
00:36:57One night I went to the vineyard, on a sunday night, and john and carol asked my wife and i if we wanted to go out and have a cup of coffee with them after church.
00:37:06And we did and we're talking, and I said, "john, I want to ask you a question.
00:37:09"As far as lonnie goes, with his homosexuality, is that something that you just show him " and john said, "how do you know lonnie's homosexual?
00:37:27" " Narrator: Many conservative christians believe that homosexuality is a sin.
00:37:37Bible verses are often cited, from leviticus and romans, branding this behavior as unnatural.
00:37:45The next day john called me.
00:37:47He said, "i spoke to lonnie today.
00:37:50"I asked him if this was so.
00:37:53"And he admitted it.
00:37:54" and he said, "i let him go; I terminated " well, no, we pulled him out of visible ministry, and that's the thingthat lonnie had a difficult time with.
00:38:04He'd be talking, meeting with people " and I'd go and talk with peopleand ask them-- I'd want to know if lonnie was hitting on somebody.
00:38:12So we kept puttingmore and more boundaries on him, and finally he left.
00:38:18He just felt that we were unjustin our treatment of him and--which is fine.
00:38:24Narrator: Opinions are sharply divided as to whether lonnie was a homosexual.
00:38:28His friends believed that even though he may have once defined himself as being gay, that after his conversion to jesus christ, he renounced homosexuality and always maintained it was a sin.
00:38:41Though he may have lapsed back into this behavior on occasion, so they reason, he was never a practicing homosexual again.
00:38:50When lonnie asked me to marry him at particular time is when he told me that he was gay.
00:38:57He didn't say it as though he was still gay, but that he had been saved out of that lifestyle.
00:39:05Lonnie was not a practicing homosexual, that he might have fallen into the sin and given over to some things at different points of his life, but he certainly wasn't practicing that.
00:39:18And he certainly wasn't practicing that around me.
00:39:20Male Singers: ♪♪ You wouldn't let the lord touch your heart; ♪♪
00:39:27 ♪♪
00:39:34♪♪ and now it's time to think about the life ♪♪
00:39:38.. ♪♪♪♪
00:39:39Narrator: There are other friends who suggest that lonnie's sexual behavior was indicative of a lifelong struggle, one that simply did not go away with his profession of faith in jesus christ.
00:39:53At the end of the marriage, he told me that he had been staying late in some gay bars.
00:39:59It was a hard thing for me to understand, how he could party on saturday night and preach on sunday morning.
00:40:08And, the spirit of god moved, and there was no doubt about it.
00:40:14I think that's one area of his life that never got-- it was never broken, he was never free of it.
00:40:23And it remained hidden away and would manifest itselfvery secretly, very privately.
00:40:29Narrator:THERE IS A MINORITY, HOWEVER, WHO Believe that the biblical passages about homosexuality have been misinterpreted.
00:40:38And that their own experiences at the hands of conservative christians are similar to lonnie's.
00:40:43When you're desperately trying to please god, and you think, because of the church's teaching, that to please god is to not act out on your sexual orientation-- gay or straight-- then that terrible struggle begins.
00:40:57Male Singers: ♪♪ You wouldn't let the lord touch your heart; ♪♪
00:41:04.. ♪♪♪♪
00:41:07Narrator: Because conservative christians look upon sexual sins as being more grievous than other indiscretions, lonnie was branded an outcast and treated with contempt by those he had helped establish in the ministry.
00:41:19It was a bit of an open secret in the church community about lonnie's moral failings, and I really believed john, near the end, became concerned that it could significantly undermine the vineyard.
00:41:33And just the fact that we let somebody who was a practicing homosexual minister, ..
00:41:42Male Interviewer: ..yeah.
00:41:45Lonnie was not wise enough to understand that people constantly wanted to use him for his anointing, and throw him away as a human being.
00:41:54Lonnie in tears said, "darrell, " he says, "they like the goodies, darrell, " what do you say to that, you know?
00:42:07Maybe "hate" was too strong, with a capital "h," ..
00:42:13You know, when people are willing to rip pages ..
00:42:16Narrator: There is no mention of how influential lonnie was over the growth of the calvary chapel or vineyard church movements, both of which have grown into worldwide denominations, each with more than 1,000 churches.
00:42:28But it also bothered me that somebody who had had such a dynamic impact on a movement was written out.
00:42:36" because no matter what somebody does, that doesn't wipe out the good that they've done.
00:42:43It doesn't make good bad.
00:42:46Interviewer: We're not--no, we don't write anybody out of history.
00:42:52We'll admit that god usedlonnie frisbee to do certain things to us,and we're not ashamed of that.
00:43:00Interviewer: See, the truth is I didn't read john's book.
00:43:14I mean, I lived it.
00:43:15Lonnie's misfortune is he got caught.
00:43:20'Cause there are a lot of charismatic homosexual ministers right now.
00:43:26And I am not saying that, you know, it's okay as long as you don't get caught, I'm saying that we need to find a way for them.
00:43:33Find a way within the body of christ to love and minister to them and accommodate them.
00:43:39But by the church closing its doors to this issue, it drives us out into the darkness.
00:43:44And in the darkness we do things because we're afraid.
00:43:48Because we're alone.
00:43:49Because we don't know how else to do it.
00:43:51Male Singer: ♪♪ When that morning finally comes ♪♪
00:43:57 ♪♪
00:44:04 ♪♪
00:44:10.. ♪♪♪♪
00:44:14Narrator: Cutting his ties with established church bodies, lonnie turned his focus toward independent missionary trips to foreign countries.
00:44:22Privately, he began to focus on some personal issues including sexual abuse.
00:44:27When lonnie was eight he was molested by a baby-sitter.
00:44:30And that was an ongoing thing which I didn't know about.
00:44:33Narrator: As lonnie realized how sexual abuse has so shaped him, he became upset that many of the people he had worked with were so blind to this issue and hadn't reached out to help him.
00:44:44Blamed his dad, blamed his stepdad.
00:44:47Blamed chuck smith and then john wimber, you know.
00:44:51And he really, really had a difficult time with these men and what they represented.
00:44:57IN THE LATE '60s, EARLY '70s, Molestation was not one of the issues that people wanted to deal with and the kind of impact that it would have on people.
00:45:04I need to tell you that I moved in big circles with big bozos.
00:45:12( Laughter & Applause ) Lonnie's bitterness, I think he was entitled to it, if I can say that.
00:45:20I mean, if anyone's entitled to bitterness.
00:45:22I think that both my dad and john were like father figures to him, but fathers who rejected him.
00:45:31And that had to be extremely painful for lonnie, and I think it's part of the tragedy of his life.
00:45:41So I think that there are two areas to blame here; I think lonnie's to blame because he became independent spirited, and I think the church is to blame because it never recognized who they had in their midst at the time.
00:45:56Male Singer: ♪♪ All the rich and all the ♪♪
00:46:02 ♪♪♪♪
00:46:08(♪♪ Acoustic Guitar ♪♪) Narrator: In the early 1990s, lonnie went to the doctor for some tests and found out that he had contracted hiv.
00:46:27Within four months he had developed aids.
00:46:30It really kind of hurt my feelings a lot that he didn't even entrust in me enough to let me know where he was, and what was going on.
00:46:39It really bothered me a lot.
00:46:42( Heavy Sigh ) You know, I asked lonnie, "lonnie, why don't you just get on a camera " lonnie's response to that was, "you know, I am in such pain "and I have so much pain and shame "about what it is that I'm dying of, "i don't have the energy nor the capacity " he almost died in october.
00:47:14He had a real bad bout.
00:47:15And I thought, "oh lord, not now," because he was not in a good state.
00:47:20But by the time he died in march, there had been forgiveness, there had been healing.
00:47:25David Sloane: First he talked about his life, and then he talked about how much he loved the lord.
00:47:29And then he said, "you know, "to anyone who has anything against me, " " Male Singer: ♪♪ Lift up your eyes ♪♪
00:47:42 ♪♪
00:47:50.. ♪♪♪♪
00:47:56Narrator: At his funeral in march, 1993, many of the ministers with whom lonnie had worked struggled to find the right words.
00:48:06A few of them identified him with the biblical character, samson, a man whose powerful influence was cut short by moral failure.
00:48:15The last speaker was pastor chuck smith, who talked of a phone call that he had shared with lonnie only a few days before he died.
00:48:24They had reminisced about what god had done through lonnie's life to begin the calvary chapel movement.
00:48:32Last wednesday I called lonnie.
00:48:36We talked a little bit of that work that god, by his holy spirit, had wrought through lonnie's life, back there in the early years of calvary chapel.
00:48:50Narrator: But in his concluding remarks, smith's comments on lonnie not living up to his potential disappointed some of those in attendance.
00:49:00A man who knew the powerful anointing of god's spirit upon his life, but unfortunately a man who never experienced the ultimate of the potential.
00:49:17I often wonder just what it could have been.
00:49:23Connie: I came up right out of my seat.
00:49:26And my friends from the big house, steve heefner and jim doop, pulled me back down.
00:49:33I couldn't believe that anybody could be so arrogant and have misunderstood lonnie so completely.
00:49:43That really upset me.
00:49:44And it struck me as so odd, because here's a kid who had nothing by way of education or abilities to even educate himself.
00:49:58What he did with what he had-- which is what we're accountable for-- I don't know if chuck has the wherewithal or the place to say what lonnie's potential is.
00:50:14If you put it in terms of, " lonnie didn't get much and much wasn't required of him, but, man, he did a lot with what he had.
00:50:24It's almost as though it was chuck's opportunity to give lonnie one last slam.
00:50:29There is a religious body of people who are mad at the fact that god's blessing rested on lonnie when they think it shouldn't have been.
00:50:39And if they had had their choice, lonnie would not have had the blessing that he did.
00:50:45But he did!
00:50:46I think lonnie was a very authentic person.
00:50:51He was an authentic man of god who had a childlike freedom to be used of god.
00:50:59And when he was doing it, he was being authentic.
00:51:02I think he was also an authentic screwed-up person with some very deep, deep, deep pain that he didn't even know the significance of.
00:51:12Kenn Gulliksen: God was just, I believe, sending this clown.
00:51:18God wanting to receive the glory is almost laughing in heaven in delight and joy at this silly little man with his silly beard doing these silly things.
00:51:32You know, the one thing that gave me great hope was I saw how tremendously god used lonnie and I just put myself into that category and I said, "well, if god could use lonnie, he can use " what does it mean that god placed his spirit on a homosexual in 1967?
00:51:49The same thing that it means when god placed his spirit on any of us when we turned our faces up to him and said, "oh god, please use us, with all our heart, we cry out for you to " because there aren't any of us, who have been used, who do not wrestle with sinful issues in our lives.
00:52:08My dad made the announcement, "if we have to turn away one young person "because they're barefoot, "and their bare feet are going to ruin our carpet, "then we'll pull out the carpet, remove the pews, "we'll sit on the concrete floor.
00:52:25"These kids have nowhere else to go to connect with god.
00:52:30" now, we can say that about drug-dealing, free sex, rock 'n' roll hippies, but not say that about homosexuals.
00:52:46If the church says to anyone, "you cannot come here, you cannot engage in the life of the church--" to anyone-- then where are they supposed to go to find jesus?
00:52:58(♪♪ Guitar ♪♪) Male Singer: ♪♪ I come on behalf of the king ♪♪
00:53:13.. ♪♪
00:53:19 ♪♪♪♪
00:53:24CAPTION TECHNOLOGIES INC. Male Singers:.. ♪♪♪♪
00:53:30... ♪♪
00:53:33.. ♪♪
00:53:38.. ♪♪
00:53:49I want to be your smile.
00:53:52I want to see what you see inside of me.
00:53:56You touch my souland you make me whole.
00:54:01You're so wonderful!
00:54:04.. ♪♪
00:54:08.. ♪♪♪♪