Pastor Chuck Smith 1927-2013
The first time I saw Pastor Chuck was in 1972. I was only 13, but my brother’s girlfriend Doris drove me to the Book Store on Sunflower Street in Santa Ana. I was told that this was going to be the home of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. I was puzzled about that since we were not in Costa Mesa, but in a farming area of Santa Ana. I surveyed the field the church had purchased and asked, “What are they going to do with all of this land.” She replied that God was going to build upon it and the foundation would be laid on Christ Jesus. Chuck would teach the Word and feed the sheep.
Well I soon learned that sheep when they are properly fed produce more sheep and that His flock included other sheep that were not of this fold and the Hippies flocked in. She said we used to be down the street at Maranatha Village, but there was not enough room for all of the people there. So the church bought this field and according to Pastor Chuck the church had gotten a very good price for it. I still couldn’t believe that all of that land would ever be used. The Main Sanctuary was completed and I was told that they had been meeting in tents.
My brother was attending the Foursquare Church in Huntington Beach and I did as well. It was just about as far as my parents would let me walk or ride my bike, but on Saturdays Doris would take me in her car to Big Calvary as we liked to call it for Maranatha Music Night and that was when I met Greg Laurie for the first time. The music was known as Christian Rock or Jesus Music and it was a real concert to a 12-year-old boy. Over the years I heard Love Song play there and bands like Mustard Seed Faith. Everyone was standing holding their hands up and it was very cool. I had been in a Pentecostal Church for a couple of years, but this dancing and praising was something different. It was real and spontaneous. Greg Laurie would give the Word and an altar call and the young people in search of something better came down in droves. Maybe that’s how the counter-culture really worked. All these dissatisfied kids who many had run away from home to drop out of society dropped back in through the Jesus People Movement.
I do remember some of the church ladies complain that the Hippies were ruining the carpet with their dirty feet. Chuck had a quick reply,”We will tear out the carpet if that is what’s needed.” Well I don’t think he had to go that far. It’s hard to fight against God when He is doing a great work in your midst. The Jesus Movement was in full swing and God was raising up Teachers, Pastors and musicians to get His message out to the masses. We went to the pier, the beach and into the homes for bible studies We did not need a particular night to witness on the sand and street or to form a Bible study. Chuck was not going to lay some heavy authority trip on us or was he going to impede the work of the Holy Spirit. Other churches were soon planted and today there are some 1500 affiliated Calvary Chapels around the world taking the everlasting Gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation that they can reach.
We were young and we were just glad to have found the Rock to cling on to. The world was insane and the counterculture had failed to produce the answer, but God was there as He is here today directing the path of the righteous men and women who will humble themselves and call upon His name and He will lift them up. The Calvary Chapel movement will be looked back at by church historians as a time when a lost generation who would not darken the doorway of a denominational church found a home, were accepted just as they were and allowed God to change their lives by the transforming of their minds. We were no longer conformed to this world or nonconformists, but we were His children we were Jesus Freaks and we were loved.
May we close this article with a prayer of Pastor Chuck’s. C2000 series Jude
Shall we pray,
Now, may you be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. May you go forth and practice the injunctions. Basically they are, walk in truth, and the truth is, we are to love one another. So may God’s love just dwell in your hearts richly through faith. May you walk in love and increase in love, and increase in your knowledge and understanding of God’s love for you. May you keep yourself in the love of God so that this week God can do all the wonderful things He wants to do for you, just because He loves you so much. May you experience the touch of God’s love in a new and special way, in Jesus’ name!