My Last Trip To L.A. Part Five

12 Jan

My Last Trip To L.A. Part Five

By: Bob Gersztyn

All Photography Copyright by Bob Gersztyn

41 Wittenburg Door293

One of the things that I didn’t explain in the last four earlier installments of this series was all the information that I was processing in my brain from the time that I quit all drugs and alcohol in 1971 until I had my first beer in 10 years in 1981. The reason why I think that it’s important to point out that I was as stone cold sober as a judge is expected to be, was because I was a member of a born again holiness movement in the Protestant Pentecostal church, and eventually became an ordained minister of the Foursquare church.

42 LIFE 1978(8)

The Foursquare church was at the epicenter of the Jesus movement, because its biggest churches were either Foursquare ministers like Jack Hayford or former Foursquare ministers like Chuck Smith. It was started by the most influential female minister of the 20th century, Aimee Semple McPherson. McPherson was the creator of church theatrics with here illustrated sermons that were like stage plays depicting her teachings. I knew nothing about this at the time of my conversion, but when I learned it, I saw that it was the reason why a Christianized version of rock & roll was so easily incorporated into its liturgy and as entertainment.

43 Bernie Federman Band

After I became involved with the Highland Park Neighborhood Church (HPNC) and did everything that I could to insure that my path was straight and true, I went through all my books, records and other possessions looking for anything that might cause me to stumble in my walk with the Lord. I had a record collection of over 300 albums and a library consisting of about 50 books. I either destroyed or sold my record albums, until I had about 20 left that I decided were not going to cause me to stumble. Then at the used record store I traded my albums for classical albums at a 3 for 1 exchange. I threw away all the novels, like “From Here To Eternity” by James Jones to “Sexus” by Henry Miller.

44 From Here To Eternity295

I immediately began to attend classes that were offered at HPNC and purchased the books that they were based on. I remember John Stott was a popular author and then there was Hal Lindsey, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Bob Larson and many others. Plus I was reading books about Christian heroes, like George Muller, Reese Howells and John Wesley. At the same time I was relentlessly reading the Bible from cover to cover so often that I was wearing the Bibles out and worked my way from the Jerusalem Bible, which was Catholic, to “The New King James” to the Old “King James Version” and finally the “New American Standard Version” (NASV). I spent the day working as a letter carrier for the U. S. Postal Service, and memorized scripture while I delivered my route.

45 Jerusalem Bible296

It was at that point that I enrolled in L.I.F.E. Bible college in the Echo Park District of Los Angeles, that Aimee Semple McPherson founded in the late 1920’s. I had already attended Macomb County Community College for 1 1/2 years before I began to take photography classes at Pasadena City College, until I enrolled full time at L.I.F.E. Bible college in 1975. I studied the Bible in English, Greek and Hebrew along with theology, homiletics, and classes on every book of the entire Bible. At the same time I was reading Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


I attended Bible college while I worked on staff at HPNC, under Mark Ballard. Then after I graduated and was licensed and ordained I began to attend California State University at Los Angeles (CSULA). I wanted to get a Masters Degree in history so I could support myself as a college teacher, because I already understood that I wouldn’t be able to support my family with the ministry, unless God provided a miracle.

47 Plutarch298

So I took classes in 1979 and 1980 from Dr. Pratt and Dr. Malik, covering the Early Middle Ages, Ancient Roman History, Ancient Greek History, Ancient Egyptian History, The Alexandrian Age, New Testament History and Ancient Semitic and Ancient Mesopotamian History. was reading Plutarch, Tacitus, Marcus Aurelias, Augustine, Paul Tillich and dozens of others as well as the History of Christianity from the beginning to the Reformation.ΒΒ Β Β At the same time that I was filling my mind with all this information I was only listening to Christian music by Christian artists, unless I was in an environment that had secular music, like at the mall in a record store or sometimes on my AM radio in the car.

48 Christian History299

By the end of the 1970’s, just before I moved to Oregon for the first time, I was listening to secular music on my portable radio, in my church office. I only listened to KZLA, which was the first Easy Listening station in L.A, back in 1979. They played songs like Baker Street by Jerry Rafferty.Β or The Sultans of Swing by Dire StraitsΒ , but the final clincher that determined that it was okay to listen to was the conversion ofΒ Dylan.

49 Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was the prophet of the 1960’s, who I abandoned on an LSD trip back in 1969, but whose influence led me to my eventual decision to follow Jesus Christ and abandon the ways of the world. Now he was born again and was walking on both sides of the aisle as his new fans embraced him and his old fans either booed him, as they had before or accepted that it was Dylan and it would only last 3 albums. He now professed his faith in Jesus Christ and was ultimately touched by the Jesus movement that he helped create. .

50 wittenburg door301

Then there was the Wittenburg Door magazine, that Diana, the church secretary and good friend gave me as a birthday present in 1979. I read each issue from cover to cover and it exploded my mind beyond anything that I had previously experienced. If Laverne Campbell, my original Pastor and major influence in Christianity endorsed it, then it must be okay. So it was with all this information being assimilated and integrated into my life that I began my Exodus journey that used the story of Jonah for its second motif. In my case, Ninevah was Oregon and my wife and children experienced my flight and tribulation with me.

51 Wittenburg Door291

To be continued.


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