Jesus Movement prodigal slid into homosexual sin, but God’s love drew him out
“I was repeatedly molested by a number of men in my neighborhood as a very young boy,” says Joe Dallas, program director of Genesis Counseling and former president of Exodus International. “That awakened a sexual precociousness a kid should not have.” The premature awakening of these desires led to successive sexual experimentation, while stolen pornography from the local liquor store fueled his erotic fantasies.
The power of lust became a growing part of his experience as an adolescent.
By the 8th grade, Dallas was sexually active, then he became promiscuous with both sexes in high school. Extensive drug use was another accelerant on his wayward path.
But at a critical moment a high school girlfriend invited him to church — a “little place” called Calvary Chapel, in 1971. He decided to check it out.
“You had to arrive two hours early to find a place on the floor,” Dallas recalls. “I had never seen so many on-fire Christians together under one roof.”
He was intrigued because he had never heard such a clear presentation of the gospel, a message that penetrated to the depths of his heart.
He wrestled under the conviction of the Holy Spirit for two months after his first visit to the church. Dallas describes being “hounded, dogged, aggressively pursued” by God’s Spirit.
One day he couldn’t take the pressure any longer. He went to a park across the street from his high school in Long Beach, California and began to pray:
“Lord, I do believe you are there and that you hear me. I believe you died on the cross and I’m tired of fighting. I’ll have you if you’ll take me.”
At that moment, he was born again. “It was incredible and unforgettable,” he says. “No matter what has happened since then, that will always be the reference point.” After his conversion, Dallas was baptized by Lonnie Frisbee, the charismatic hippie evangelist at the center of the Jesus Movement.
For the next few years, Dallas was on fire for Jesus. With his long hair and a car covered with Christian bumper stickers, he resembled many in the burgeoning movement. “I toted a Bible to school the size of a phone book and witnessed to anything that breathed,” he recalls. He and other friends shared the gospel with sailors and prostitutes in downtown Long Beach.
“I was very zealous and that was part of the spirit of the time,” Dallas notes. “There was a strong emphasis on evangelism and it was assumed that if you were a born again believer you would be witnessing.”
In 1972 Dallas joined an outreach of Calvary Chapel in Long Beach that became known as Shekinah Fellowship, led by Brant Baker. When Dallas was ordained by the church the following year, he was just 18-years-old. As an associate pastor, his primary focus was in music ministry. He also did pastoral counseling and conducted weddings and funerals.
Dallas describes Brant Baker as “a very charismatic minister” who wanted to follow in the footsteps of Kathryn Kuhlman, the well-known faith healer and evangelist who had a weekly television program in the 1960s and 1970s called “I believe in Miracles.” More and more, Baker’s services became healing services modeled after Kuhlman’s, and he began to draw large crowds. Greg Laurie was part of the church at that time, but left shortly after Dallas’s arrival to start his own ministry in Riverside, California.
The same year Dallas was ordained, he married a committed young Christian woman after a very brief courtship. “In those days there was no dating or much courtship to be done because we thought the Lord was coming back Tuesday before lunch,” he says.
He and his wife worked alongside each other at Shekinah Fellowship, but now he sees the folly of marrying so young. “We weren’t mature enough to handle the stresses of marriage and ministry,” he says.
The church began to develop some serious internal problems, according to Dallas. “The leader was in his mid-twenties, and you had very young men and women with more responsibility and power than they were ready to handle,” he says. “There were power struggles and ego clashes,” he says sadly. “We lost some of the simplicity and integrity that we had when we began.”
Dallas and his wife left the church to find work in the secular job arena. At first, it appeared to be a good decision. But after a year away from his ministry involvement, Dallas’ mind began to drift in the wrong direction.
Succumbing to temptation
His curiosity was aroused by an adult bookstore that recently opened in the area. “Up to that point, my life was very consecrated and I wouldn’t dream of using pornography or acting out in any form of sexual sin,” he says. “But I started to compromise first in my thought life.”
To read the full account of Dallas’ story, go to www.Godreports.com
Mark Ellis, Assist News Service