The five NEO Xenoids arrived Saturday afternoon to a sunny San Francisco to see what the Lord may have in store for us on the left coast. We got to our hotel on the bay and started putting together a plan of action for the week. The first stop on our adventure was a visit to Berkeley on Sunday. And what an adventure it was! We met three Jesus Freaks who drove up from Sacramento (about 100 miles away): Doug Shearer, his wife Sita Shearer and their longtime coworker Doug Krieger. These guys were in the middle of so much that happened at Berkeley and played a huge part in the Jesus movement that flourished in the 70’s. They gave us an extensive tour of the campus and surroundings. We spent all day walking up one side of the campus and down the other, seeing some of the famous sites of the “Free Speech” movement and their former ministry hot spots. It was such a blast to hang out with these three spiritual powerhouse. Even though these saints were in their 60’s, they proved more than up for the task and their joy and enthusiasm was contagious. Especially Doug Kreiger, though ill with bronchitis, did not want to miss the opportunity to meet us. In fact he seemed to outpace us and was always leading us on to the next site to see. We found out later that the Shearers had to take Doug to the hospital on their way home to Sacramento.
The atmosphere at Berkeley however is a very dark one. We searched the campus for evidence of a Christian influence and found practically nothing. There was one “Veritas” Christian group for graduate students and the next closest thing was a Seventh Day Adventist group? From the posters and advertisements, it seemed like every other Eastern religious, New Age, earth-cause, sorcery, or activist group had a presence at Berkeley, but not Christianity. It definitely felt like we were walking through the dark alleys of the devil’s stronghold.
One of the things that has given us some pause about Berkeley as a target is the absence of student contacts there. In order to start or get involved in a college-based ministry we feel an open door would be at least a few students who want to work with us (similar to how we’ve started things at KSU). Nothing is certain, but this is our initial impression both from going there and discussing things with many of our contacts. There is still much more to investigate. We are looking at other universities. Santa Cruz south of the bay is one possibility. Even more promising may be Sacramento itself. More to come on these fronts as well as our very edifying meet with Elaine Stedman and some of her family and friends on Monday.