Jesus People Revival.
Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee conduct a beach service and mass baptism at Corona Del Mar beach.
Right in the middle of the cultural milieu that was the Hippie Movement, where young people were dropping out of mainstream society to seek something deeper but instead found dead ends in free love and drugs, God birthed one of the biggest revivals in modern American history.
Most mainstream churches were just burying their heads in their hands as they lamented the slide of modern culture into all out degradation. However, God was—like so many times in history past—working behind the scenes to give birth to a powerful movement that would lead many to salvation and new life. He raised up actual missionaries right from within the Hippie Movement itself among hippies who were dropping out of society.
Enter Lonnie Frisbee, a man used by God in ways that boggle the mind. Testimony after testimony of those who knew, met, encountered, or had interaction with him tell of lives changed dramatically towards knowing and serving and being filled with God’s Spirit and becoming committed to follow Christ completely through his ministry.
Lonnie baptizing at Corona Del Mar beach.
So vibrant is his memory still, more than a decade after his death, that when a documentary of his life played at the Newport Film Festival a couple of years ago it was the most popular film in the whole festival, selling out with a line around the block shortly upon its opening and outselling a mainstream Hollywood movie which also debuted at that Newport Festival.
Frisbee is also an important study within the discipline and thought of missiology—the study of Christian Mission work and practice throughout the centuries. Much like the famed missionary Hudson Taylor who ventured deep into inland China and learned from the Scriptures and the study of Paul the Apostle that he must adopt the language, style, thought and dress of these Chinese to effectively reach the Chinese so Frisbee’s outreach to the hippies was made all the more effective because of his ability to identify with them by being a hippie himself and knowing the dress and language of the subculture.
And yet just as Taylor was roundly criticized and slandered by the religious community of his day for doing this, but is now seen all these years later as one of the most insightful and biblically illuminated men of his day to understand this.
Preaching at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa
Likewise Frisbee’s insistence on remaining a hippie to reach the hippies earned him nothing but the same kind of scorn and rejection as well from the religious community. He was not perceived as a missionary to a subculture by tradition-bound holders of the status quo. This, along with his unbending stance on the need for Pentecostal power to be central in all he did, only added to the scorn heaped on him as well.
At the same time, he was a man with obvious weaknesses, flaws, and shortcomings, things that he seemed to be constantly dealing and struggling with.
God indeed does choose the weak things of the world to shame the wise. This is what the Word of God itself tells us. It is truly perplexing that we should be so surprised when we actually see it happening right before our eyes.
Here then is a story, not of human might or power, but of God’s Spirit moving upon and through a weak human vessel who simply said “Yes, Lord” to God’s call, and consequently was used by God in ways that boggle the mind. It is not at all unlike the stories that fill the pages of Scripture: one of blessing and grace but also of failings and frailty.
Ultimately though, it is about Christ’s glorious redemptive power. It is the story of the Lord who never leaves nor forsakes His own, even in the face of bitter wrestling with their own human flaws. It is about that unconditional love of Jesus who will not abandon His own in spite of all their weakness and shortcomings.
The Scripture “He chose the foolish things to confound the wise” truly comes to life here as Frisbee, though often overlooked, actually became one of the main players in that awakening that arose seemingly out of nowhere and which later became known as the Jesus People Revival, one of modern America’s biggest revivals.
Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda meeting at Canyon High School Gym which later became known as the Anaheim Vineyard
Lonnie Frisbee’s role
in the birth of the
Jesus People Revival
and the Third Wave Revival
Frisbee rededicates his life to Christ in San Francisco and begins to do street evangelism with others in different areas including the Haight Ashbury district where hippies congregate.
The “Living Room” becomes a Christian coffee house outreach in the middle of the Hippie movement’s epicenter on Haight Ashbury in San Francisco.
Lonnie joins the House of Acts Christian house in Novato and lives there doing outreaches and living in community.
Feeling led by the Holy Spirit, Frisbee later hitchhikes down the coast to Southern California where he eventually has a divine appointment with a Pentecostal Foursquare preacher named Chuck Smith.
Frisbee moves into Chuck Smith’s house for a time but begins bringing home so many wayward youth there that they often had to sleep in the bathtub because there was no place else to put them, and so they decide to launch a community house called the “House of Miracles.”
The community house begins to grow as does the church it is connected with called Calvary Chapel, of which Chuck Smith is the pastor and where Frisbee is the star evangelist, as well as being the one who is bringing in most of the young people who are now flooding the church, a church Smith spent years trying to get to grow but couldn’t until Frisbee showed up.
While doing campus evangelism at Newport Harbor High School, a rebellious young Greg Laurie comes out to mock the freak hippie evangelist (Frisbee) and instead is rebuked by Frisbee. Laurie is bowled over by power from on high, is converted and becomes a Christian.
Greg Laurie spends approximately five years being discipled by Lonnie and copies him in every way, even down to dressing exactly as he does in hippie garb with fringes on his jacket. Laurie later becomes one of the most recognizable evangelists in the nation.
Mike Macintosh wanders into a meeting Frisbee is doing, freaked out of his mind from Vietnam and drugs and claiming he is missing half of his head. He is converted under the preaching of Frisbee and instantly healed of his unstable and insane mental condition. He later becomes pastor of one of the biggest churches in the country, Horizon Church in San Diego.
Calvary Chapel, The House of Miracles, and the Blue Top Motel become epicenters of Christian spiritual activity and renewal as the Jesus People movement spreads over the country and into other parts of the world.
Frisbee spends some time in other movements for a short period of time and then heads to South Africa to do mission work for a season.
Frisbee later has a divine appointment with a pastor named John Wimber who leads Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda. Wimber invites Frisbee to share his testimony at a Sunday Mothers’ Day service. The Holy Spirit is poured out in radical power as Frisbee ministers and invites the Holy Spirit’s presence into the meeting. Signs and wonders begin to break out in the church that day, including when young people who didn’t believe in tongues begin to speak in tongues as they are overcome by the Spirit.
Wimber, shocked and overwhelmed by what he calls his “first power encounter,” seeks God if this is from Him. He receives a call from another Calvary Chapel pastor named Tom Stipe in the middle of the night with a word from God: “John, the Lord says this is of Me.” Wimber moves forward with the work of the Spirit and becomes in time an international leader of renewal as signs and wonders follow regularly that Mothers’ Day outpouring and bring forth a full revival.
Frisbee begins to minister regularly in the back room prayer times after the services at Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda where miracles continue taking place.
Wimber and Frisbee lead a team to South Africa and Europe where explosive outpourings of the Spirit’s power take place as they minister amongst different churches and settings, drawing marked attention to their ministry and giving it international acclaim.
Wimber whose notoriety and visibility is growing to where he is becoming a well-recognized Christian leader in his own right is asked to leave the Calvary Chapel movement and aligns his church with Ken Gulliksen’s (another former Calvary Chapel pastor) churches called the Vineyard and goes on to become its main leader. He teaches and does conferences on the importance of healing, power evangelism, and signs and wonders, which are themes that clearly show Frisbee’s influence on the Vineyard as Frisbee is the one who introduced Wimber to his first Power Encounter as evidenced by John Wimber himself in his book Power Evangelism.
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