Lonnie FrisbeeI just received a new DVD in the post:
It's a fascinating and tragic documentary about the life of Lonnie Frisbee. Lonnie was one of the key figures of the 'Jesus Movement' amongst the hippie counter-culture in '60s West Coast USA. He also played a key part in the early days of both the Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard movements.
I am intrigued by his story for several reasons :
i) He seems to have been a catalyst in a genuine move of God amongst a sub-culture who were completely outside the church. Lonnie claims to have received his calling when he was on acid in the desert. He originally had some strange ideas which mixed up Jesus stuff with UFOs and other mysticism but upon meeting other Christian hippies became more orthodox in his views and went on to baptise hundreds in the pacific ocean.
ii) I'm interested in the place of experience in conversion and the Christian life, and what happens when this becomes a main focus.
iii) His place in the Vineyard movement which has been a big part of my life. In the Vineyard, the way they do ministry is to pray 'Come, Holy Spirit' and then wait and see what happens. (this has continued into New Wine etc). Now, 'Come, Holy Spirit' is an ancient prayer of the church, but as far as I can make out, its modern use in this way of ministry goes back to Lonnie. When he prayed this on Mother's Day 1980 in John Wimber's church, people fell about, shook and began to speak in tongues. Wimber cites this occasion as being instrumental in his ministry and the growth of the Vineyard movement.
iv) Lonnie was homosexual in orientation. Although he apparently always claimed that homosexual behaviour was sinful, he evidently did have homosexual affairs at times in his life, though there is debate to what extent. When this was discovered, he was removed from public ministry in the Vineyard. He felt extremely bitter towards John Wimber about this and perhaps never really recovered. He eventually died of AIDS in 1993.
The sub-text of the film is that both the Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard movements have written Lonnie out of their history, due to his homosexuality. In the Vineyard, I'm not sure this is completely true. Although he is referred to just as 'a young man' in John Wimber's Power Evangelism book he appears on the Vineyard USA website and he is mentioned extensively in Carol Wimber's biography of John.
Now some people may just think that Lonnie was just a fraud from the start, like a hypnotist or something, but I don't think this makes sense of the testimonies of the fruit of his ministry. For my money I think he's a classic example of how God uses broken and messed up people. Like I say, a fascinating and tragic story.