Acts 2:47 on Hollywood Boulevard
We were especially gladdened recently to hear from an old friend of ours from the Movement days, Kurt van Gorden, pictured here with our founder Duane Pederson 30 years ago.
Kurt today shares his time and energies between ministry in Southern California and Utah. He recently wrote to tell of a "time that I spent with a man of God who taught me more about God's love than anyone else."
Kurt had become a Christian in 1971, when the Movement was going strong. When he moved from Ohio to California in 1976, Duane was there to welcome him and helped him to "acclimate to California living." Knowing that Duane was from the Midwest too (he grew up in Minnesota), Kurt one day said to him, "One thing I really miss is the acres of green grass blowing in the wind, the trees, and the small animals that you see every day."
Duane asked Kurt if he would like to see where to find those "grassy fields" in California, and Kurt could hardly wait, expecting to jump in his van and drive somewhere. To his surprise, Duane sat down on the curb along Hollywood Boulevard and said, "Let me show you what I do when I too miss the green Midwestern farmlands."
Duane then "cupped his hands around his knee as a makeshift chair to straighten his back, closed his eyes in the bright California sunlight and smiled. 'There it is,' he said. 'When I miss the farmlands, I just close my eyes and go back in my memory to see the beauty of those things where I once lived.'" That moment, Kurt said, helped him to "appreciate God where I was at the time."
Kurt began organizing teams of young people to distribute the Hollywood Free Paper and evangelize on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. "Duane and I drew close," he recalls, "as I represented [the HFP] newspaper on the streets."
Then as now, a dazzling and often weird kaleidoscope of religious sects swirled around the streets of Hollywood. Some followed Kurt down the boulevard "shouting that I was an ex-member, which I wasn't," because he knew so much about their faith when witnessing to them. Others "surrounded me and chanted while beating their drums to try and make me quit and go home. That did not work."
Nevertheless, Kurt recalls, "one person would come to the Lord here and another there; day by day we were seeing people come to Jesus Christ for salvation." Or as Saint Luke wrote in Acts 2:47, "the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
Duane and Kurt continue to correspond. Recently Duane sent Kurt this photograph from a dinner held "back in the day" with the simple note, "Hello Kurt, This is a shot from approx 1976. You are in my thoughts and prayers each day. May God continue to sustain you. In Christ, Duane."
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