JACKSON – As I began to see the movie The Jesus Revolution being advertised on Facebook and television, I was carried back in memory of that time in my life. It was 1968 and I was in the Navy at the time stationed in Southern California at the Pacific Missile Range at Point Mugu not far from the city of Oxnard. The church I attended there was First Southern Baptist Church of Oxnard and was very active in the community. I was asked to work with the youth department there.
I recognized immediately that something was happening there much of which I had not seen in the churches that I had been a part of in New Mexico as I grew up. The youth group in Oxnard had a fire in them that was causing many of their friends to surrender to Christ. That group was determined that people would come to Jesus. They not only witnessed to people at school, but everywhere they went. They joined Campus Crusade for Christ’s (CRU) effort in carrying the gospel to the beaches up and down the coast. Using the tract The Four Spiritual Laws, young people were reaching people for Christ on beaches from Ventura to San Diego. I was so happy to be a part of that.
There were also concerts by contemporary Christian artists of the time like Larry Norman, Love Song, and Dennis Agajanian which had so many people attending that the crowds would flow from the venues into the surrounding streets. I remember attending one at a large church in Hollywood where the church was completely filled, so they put speakers outside and the police closed off the block to accommodate all the people outside who weren’t able to get into the church. Those were exciting places to be. I was even given the opportunity to play my guitar and sing gospel music at an Oxnard pizza restaurant named the Pizza Palace.
During that time, is when I met my wife Diana. I had a part in leading her sisters to the Lord, so they brought her to one of our youth group’s Saturday night meetings. Their intention was for Diana to hear me teach about Jesus so that she would fall in love with Him like they had. They had no clue at the time that she would not only come to Jesus as the youth group and I witnessed to her, but that she would fall in love with me as well and become a pastor’s wife.
A few years after we got married and I had been to Vietnam and back a couple of times, we moved to Poway, California where she worked with children at Poway Southern Baptist Church and helped me as I became a leader in the youth group there. The Jesus movement was still going strong and our youth group there grew from 8 to 63 in a little over two years. Again, it wasn’t me, but it was the Lord leading the students to win their friends to a saving acceptance of Him.
The group outgrew every place in the church we were given to meet, so finally the church bought the house next door for us. We would sit shoulder to shoulder on the living room floor during the Sunday School opening where I would lead them in singing songs, and they would share testimonies; then they would break up into classes for different age groups. Also, they would meet during the week at different homes for Bible discussions and snacks. The youth choir also grew greatly and performed Christian youth musicals. What a wondrous time these years were in the life of the church!
In my 46 years of ministry, I have not seen or experienced anything else like those years when I saw not only teens in the communities, but also sailors in the Navy turn to Christ in great numbers. That is also when I saw my best friend from Navy days, Elton Spurgeon who is now pastor of Thornhill Baptist Church in Hudson, MI, get saved. There is no doubt in my heart that it was truly a time where the Holy Spirit was moving.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Don Anderson was saved at VBS when he was eight years old. He started preaching at the age of 16 and has pastored one mission and four churches since the age of 28. He has a Bachelor's Degree from Texas Tech and a Master of Christian Studies from Union University in Jackson, TN.