The Key To His Kingdom
By Bob W.
To our fellow employees and friends nothing seemed stranger than our leaving "The Work" in 1973. After all The Tribulation was just around the corner. What better place to be than right at headquarters where all the action was taking place. But Barb and I made the decision to leave and move to Oregon. Our excitement didn't seem to fit the situation. We weren't depressed, discouraged or fearful of being punished by the god of the Worldwide Church of God because we were voluntarily leaving. We were excited about the prospects of starting a whole new way of life. A life that was uncluttered with massive amounts of people, traffic congestion and horrid air pollution. We really felt that we were being liberated, and indeed we were. We also felt God's blessing was not based on geography. We were certain that our new life in Oregon would be one filled with adventure....Now almost 27 years later, we know we were right, and indeed our lives have been rich and full of adventure, discovery and a relationship that has grown in love.
But leaving "The Work" when the end was so near turned out to be quite an ordeal to say the least, more than I anticipated. It was 1973, the end was just around the corner and we were, of our own accord leaving "God's Work". (Herb forgot to read John 6:29 which describes exactly what God's work is.) We were criticized for being weak and faithless. We were told that god would surely punish us for being so selfish. Putting our personal feelings and well being ahead of Herbert's work was not acceptable. We were told to expect the fire of horrible and unbearable trials to consume us. We were treated almost as if we were traitors. Not blatantly, but in very subtle ways, just enough to make our leaving a most unpleasant ordeal.
My boss Ellis LaRavia asked if I would stay on, and I told him no. I liked Ellis, at that time he was a good man who had a heart for serving. He not only had a heart for service but he also exhibited an almost God like amount of patience and endurance. Which at times I pushed him to his limit of endurance. Not intentionally. (But looking back I was a rebel. I wouldn't conform to the mold they tried to form me into.) He sincerely asked if I would stay for "The Works" sake. Like all of us he felt that it was our most important purpose in life, we must get "The Work" done. I really think he expected me to hesitate, and then agree to stay. For me staying was not an option, so without hesitation I told him no. He was really taken back by my immediate response. He found it hard to accept that I would not sacrifice my personal plans, desires, hopes and dreams for the sake of "The Work". I don't think he ever knew that I had come to the point where I really hated my job. It had become an endless stream of paper work, an illusion of productivity. So I told him, what good would it do if I were to stay and then lose my salvation because I became embittered and developed a horribly bad attitude. He sincerely sighed, saying something to the effect that he was sorry that I just didn't have enough faith, then said OK. I think that in some way he felt he had failed and that his leadership was not strong or positive enough to keep me on the job. That was just not the case, he was an outstanding leader. He really had little choice, our minds were made up, we were leaving regardless of what was said or done. He was right in one sense, I didn't have enough faith in either the church or college. But I never doubted my faith and trust in Jesus, it remained firm and unshaken. Besides I told him that he could hire anyone to replace me. The job wasn't technically difficult, didn't require a genius to do the work. I just didn't see what all the fuss was about. The job I was doing was not critical or essential to promoting their propaganda, oops, "doing the work". In fact the job I was doing existed solely due to Ellis's ego. That wasn't necessarily bad. It made him feel important that he was responsible for a department that was doing primary environmental research. Which was OK, might as well spend the members tithes on something that was fun.
Going through the personnel department on the other hand was like being on trial for my life. I didn't anticipate the unreasonable questions and implied accusation. They treated me as if I were a thief and was secretly plotting to stealing college and church assets. Which made me angry and a bit aggressive. The personnel director wasn't alone in his hostile treatment, even some of those we considered friends were unexpectedly cool toward us. It really didn't bother me because I had a goal in mind, saving my little daughters life. The smog was killing her and we needed to get her out of that hell hole and into some fresh air. Her medical condition at the time was serious, very serious. Barb and I were not about to be sidetracked into an emotional feeling of guilt. We knew what we must do and did it. So their snide remarks and comments about a lack of faith stayed with me about as long as water does on a ducks back. I was never afraid of any of the higher rank, rank is a bad odor. Since I didn't fear them, they didn't and couldn't intimidate me.
Before leaving there was a procedure that was necessary to go through. It was somewhat like being discharged from the military. At my first stop, the colleges personnel department I ran into a major obstacle. It wasn't all the additional paper work that needed to be fill out, and there was plenty, it was when the personnel director asked me to turn in all my keys to Herb's college and church. He obviously was not in a good mood that morning, you might even say it was a foul mood. To say he was cranky would be to have paid him a compliment. He wanted my keys and he wanted them NOW! He was somewhat taken back, he was expecting at least a dozen keys, when I handed him one. Where is the rest he demanded? That's it, one master key to the church, and college campus. He frowned and wanted to know how did I ever get permission, let alone possession of a master key. For some reason this really bothered him, probably because his office and status didn't warrant one. It was almost a status symbol of power and authority. It became apparent that he was unsure of exactly who I was. Master keys were only give out to those of high rank. So what was this Piss Ant doing with a master key. He never said it but I could read the expression on his face and in his eyes. We both knew the church had its own spies, like a lot of local churches there were individuals whose job it was to report everything they saw and heard, and Pasadena was no different. So by having just one key, and a master key at that, it worried him. By this time I had enough of his incompetent, irresponsible and even cruel behavior and accusations. Sensing his concern I decided to use this situation to my advantage, so I milked it for all it was worth. I politely smiled at him and I asked if he had the necessary security clearance required for me to give him that information. If not I would first need to make a private phone call. Before he could answer I asked if he minded my taking some notes as our discussion progressed. He was just not sure about me. Acting wisely he very quickly dropped the discussion about the key. Interesting, from then on he treated me with the dignity and respect that should be given to any loyal employee. I lucked out, my bluff paid off. (As it turned out, later he was disfellowshipped. Obviously there was something going on in his life, no wonder he was concerned about me and my lack of fear toward him and his office of authority.)
Actually between you and I, I needed about a dozen keys for my job. As it turned out, it was easier for the individual that made the keys to give me one master key than to fool with making all the rest. I really didn't care either way. As it turned out the master key opened everything on campus including HWA house. Not that it mattered to me, but it sure did to the personnel director. I guess he figured that Herb himself had given his permission to issue the key to me. No one was foolish enough to ask Herb why or to question him on a decision. I gathered by the directors reaction he wasn't about to ask Herb. Score one for the little guy.
Otherwise the procedure to check out of AC went smooth and the move to Oregon went very well. In fact the one positive thing I can say about leaving the employ of the college, they move all our furniture and stuff to Eugene at no charge. Not that we had lot of stuff, but what we did have was important to us. So for that we are thankful to them.
Life on campus was full of power moves, manipulations, threats and secret meetings. The underground flowed like a foul smelling and polluted river. And we were leaving it all behind....We smiled all the way to Eugene. What a joy to be free at last....well almost, seems as though the congregation in Eugene was often referred to by the ministry as the "Congregation from Hell"....and they were right! But that's another story for another time. We put up with their childish antics until 1992. Then we quietly left. We have since then found true freedom in ....not a church, or an organization, but in Jesus Christ alone. Never again will we be made to feel as though our salvation is in jeopardy or in the hands of another man. The truth has set us free beyond anything I can describe here. If you don't feel free, if you are constantly worried about your relationship with God, or if you feel you will not make it, then you must be living in error. Because if its truth that sets us free then it must be believing in error that places us in bondage and fear. Many of you are still fighting the fight, not realizing that Jesus Christ has already won the victory. He became a man to give His life to you so that He could give His life for you so that He would be able to live His life through you. His life in you should be one that is fearless, full of hope and a never failing faith. He will perform what He has promised. After all, He sealed the guarantee with His blood.
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