Jesus People Movement with Peter Romanowsky's New Birth Testimony and History of the beginings of Agape' Christian Church
AgapeCyber is the on-going STORY of JESUS CHRIST as viewed through the eyes, faith, and experience of the former members and associates of AGAPE CHRISTIAN CENTER CHURCH which began with my conversion in the late sixies and is continuing by GOD'S GRACE in Spirit over the INTERNET VIA this WEB PAGE.
Peter Romanowsky Testimony and early sixties
I Peter Romanowsky by the GRACE of GOD, bring to you a history of the Jesus Movement, which began in the sixties, around the peak of the baby boomer generation. Our STORY begins with the SUMMER of LOVE 1967, which is also known as the class of SIXTY-SEVEN. This was the height, or turning point, of the 60's counter- culture generation of intellectuals, hippies, free thinkers, DRUG GURUS, and so-called free-lovers. We're all old enough to know now that there is nothing free in this world without the LOVE OF GOD. Henceforth, the name AGAPE CHURCH, which our congregation came to be known as.
In June of 1969 I was blessed with being able to be married to Becky Michael Kettenhofen. We met in 1967 in a Sixties Style Commune in San Anselmo California. We all lived together in a dream style house built on the side of a hill with Redwood Trees in our back yard, and ferns growing everywhere. Dear would come into our back yard and glass and sash where everywhere from mid-wall on up. Tile decorated our kitchen and bathroom, and all in all we thought we were in a kind of Heaven on Earth.
But things began to go wrong in the commune when people were more interested in partying, then paying the rent. Since Becky and I before our marriage were the only ones paying rent, I told the rest that they had to go, it was tough "what a show down". They all ganged up against me, and I even got into a fight with my best friend and male rival for dominance of the commune. I won by the Grace of God without any blows being hit, it was a miracle. Even though I was the first to throw and object, a dinner plate which "Thank God" it missed him and hit a window sill. I felt like I was fighting for my life, we swung at each other but neither of us connected. I felt like that if I didn't get control of the house/commune that I would begin to start back-sliding into the party life again. I couldn't just leave because then Becky would be alone to fen for herself, among my friends who were partying all the time. I was God's Will in spite of the method, it worked, I won the emotional and physiological, but most of all the Spiritual Battle. As all my friends one by one left the commune that day, they all said either in writing, action or word that I didn't have a friend left in the World. Especially and literally, a former girl friend named Sally who was visiting that day. As she was the last one to leave out the front door, she said "Peter you haven't a friend left in the World"! I told her "Sally you are as pretty as a Rose, Thorns and all". Then I closed the door of the commune, and locked the door. For the first time in some two years, Becky and I were alone in this beautiful house, and we were only eighteen years old. What a Sixties fantasy, what a Sixties Dream, what a Spiritual gift from God in spite of the trauma of breaking with my worldly friends. "To be so young", and having a virtually brand new California Dream House in our physical possession. I said to myself as all my friends left that day, "that everywhere in the World that I may go, I will have Christian Brothers and Sisters as my friends.
This may be hard for some believers to realize, but getting into a virtual physical fight for ones faith, under such conditions, was necessary, at the time and under the conditions. We were all doing things that could and would have eventually destroyed us if we continued on partying. After a year of living together alone in this beautiful house, Becky and I were married. But not before some very interesting developments. I thought I was married at the time, spiritually speaking. I was the Sixties and Becky said that her father would have a heart attack, if we were married. Besides, she said it was just a piece of paper. I was saved, but wasn't sure about Becky, she had an experience in the San Anselmo Presbyterian Church were she went to Sunday School. She began crying on day during the Sunday Service, when she felt that the people there were not really sincere about their faith, and never again went to Church. Until meeting me, and experiencing my conversation. I remember just before Jesus came into my heart, by His Holy Spirit, that I could see where sex out of a marriage commitment would be wrong., but I wasn't sure that smoking marijuana was. I wasn't sure what was worse, smoking weed, or smoking cigarettes. I finally made a deal with The Lord, that if He would give me something better then grass, that I would let it go. The next thing that I knew, after a few days, Christ came into my heart. because I had finally let go of the last object that was standing before me and Christ. I was Heaven on Earth, I felt the Holy Spirit come into my heart. I couldn't believe it at first, I thought I was losing my mind. Never before have I felt such peace and joy, the two things that everyone was searching for in the Sixties, was coming into my heart. It felt like a Spiritual Wind just divided, and split in two, one stream going into my heart, and the other wind going into me mind. My first impression was that I was losing my mind, fear was there, the type of fear that everyone experiences when they have an experience that they have never had before, in their life. I pictured myself in a flash, being carried away in a stretcher, losing my mind in some long feared LSD induced flashback, but then I realized, that this couldn't have been a flash back, because I was prancing PEACE AND JOY. Something that a minor flash back could never bring. I wasn't losing my mind, it was real. In the background i would hear Katheryn Khulmen singing over the out door P.A. speakers in the front of the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. "only believe, only believe, all things are possible, only believe " it was the most Holy Experience that I have every experienced, and I couldn't recall anyone telling me, that it would be this way, I thought that all I had to do was make a commitment, and begin going to Church, then strength would gradually begin coming into my life, to say no to drugs, sin, and selfishness.
THIS WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE was more then anything that I had every heard would happen to a common person. This type of experience i thought was only reserved for Prophets or Holy Men. I was just an eighteen year old Hippie trying to find the answers , to the MEANING OF LIFE! I found it in Christ, "HALLELUJAH".
I THOUGHT MY MOTHER HAD BECOME MENTALLY IMBALANCE, when she began writing to me about her miracle of healing at a Katheryn Kuhlmen service in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles some year or so prior to me going to this service myself, to eventually BORN AGAIN! All this might sound a little crazy to those who haven't experienced the NEW BIRTH or SALVATION of Jesus Christ. I thought so also, I thought that my poor mother had suffered so much, having ten children and living by faith in a working class suburb. I thought all the trials and tribulations that she had experienced with us all, her children, and my father, who was a refugee from the war in Soviet Russia with Finland. Who also saw himself a world of suffering and death, during that great conflict. Then escaping to America from Russia into Finland where he met and married my mother). Then fled to Sweden in an open boat with many people in it during a storm, where I was eventually born in the city of Kristianstad Sweden on a Sunday morning in 1949....to be continued and edited We started out with five people, basically, in my brother's apartment in San Rafael, CALIFORNIA. Then we moved to my wife's and my home on a hill in SAN ANSELMO, Marin County, then on to the WOODACRE IMPROVEMENT CLUB facilities where we worshipped for a number of years. Before moving to the facilities of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, in San Anselmo California. The WORD AGAPE is the GREEK word for love: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. God always makes the first move; our job is simply to respond.
I was the first full-time pastor of the early sixties AGAPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. One day I was standing in front of the Shrine Auditorium on a sunny October day in 1968. I was wondering what to do next, the Shrine Auditorium was so full that the fire department had closed the doors, because it had reached its capacity. Inside moving among some seven thousand people, was the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ,He was healing many of them. I had just hitchhiked with my future wife, Becky Kettenhofen from the San Francisco Bay Area, all the way to L.A. to attend this Miracle Service, and to visit my parents Ritva and Arkady Romanowsky. The woman of God who was conducting the service was named Kathryn Kuhlman, she was a tall red-haired, white skinned, a beautiful woman, well on in her years. While I was listening to the music on the external loud speakers in front of the Shrine, a tremendous presence came into me, rushing suddenly like a spiritual wind into my heart and my mind. It felt exactly as though a channel of wind split in two, and parted half into my mind, and half into my heart. I never before had such an experience, nor have I experienced anything to this degree since, only various degrees, because, this was the NEW BIRTH that I later would learn, was foretold in the BIBLE. Truly, it can be said, that this is the MOTHER OF ALL SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES, because it deals with the initial SALVATION of ones SOUL. Hallelujah and GLORY TO GOD ALMIGHTY, may HE SHAKE EARTH with HIS GLORY, amen.
Hallelujah! after the HOLY SPIRIT came into my heart and mind, I was stunned, amazed, I had never experienced anything like this before in my life. I was walking on air, clouds,IN HEAVEN. Even though my initial reaction was fear, that was losing my mind. Every time an angel appeared to someone in the Bible, the first thing the angel would have to say is 'FEAR NOT'.Because most people do not experience things of this supernatural nature every day. In a split second, in a moment, after I felt this WIND THAT SEEMED TO GO RIGHT THROUGH ME, into my mind, into my heart, I thought I was losing my mind. I pictured myself being carried away in an ambulance, in front of the Shrine Auditorium, in Los Angeles. Then I realized, that this wasn't some kind of horrible major flash back from the sixties, it was something different, something I never felt before, real inner peace in my mind, real joy in my heart. Even thought the initial SUPERNATURAL EXPERIENCE was so awesome a feeling. After walking in a SUPERNATURAL DAZE, IN FRONT OF THE SHRINE, I felt exactly like one would feel, I imagine, when one dies, and goes to Heaven. There was no sense of fear or guilt before God. It was though I had never sinned, nothing stood between me and my Creator. No sense of guilt or shame. After what seemed like hours, days, an eternity, I began to come back on my feet to the ground. I was stunned amazed no one had ever told me of such an experience to be had, except by saints and a saint I wasn't, or certainly didn't feel like one before. In fact, I was a sinner and had to come to that conclusion, that I could't save myself, by being good in my own power.
I don't remember anyone telling me of such an experience, 'HEAVEN ON EARTH'. I thought all I would have to do is describe it to anyone that would listen, and they would instantly believe. I turned to me future wife Becky, but she was literally in a corner at the Shrine, and was just shaking her head, in disbelief. She later said that I completely changed,to the point that she didn't even know me any more. I was that changed, I shaved my head when a barber gave me a fifties style haircut, I read the Bible constantly. I was in meetings all the time, she was very tolerant, but had a sad experience in the formal church where she attended sunday school. She started crying when she looked around one sunday morning, and no one seemed to be taking the gospel seriously, so she drifted away, til I meet her in a commune in 1966. But now things have changed, I was the one on fire for The Lord, jumping up and down on the couch, sometimes with joy, sometimes with frustration, why couldn't she see. Later on in a Christian Coffee House called the Crown of Life, in Mill Valley Calif. at the Assembly of God Church. She was born again. But now, I was a new creation, heaven came down to my heart, I was walking on air, I had a mission. I felt, from the day I was born again, that I had to tell somebody, somebody, anyone, that would listen. I have been doing that, to this day, with brief interruptions. From that day on,I knew what I had to do, the ministry, was my calling. After their initial new birth experience, we were going home to the San Fernando Valley in the suburbs of Los Angeles, where my mother and father lived, and while travelling up the Hollywood Freeway, I began to wonder if I could have experienced this through Buddha,or some other way, JUST THEN the CROSS on the HOLLYWOOD FREEWAY APPEARED IN MY VIEW.
HOLY CROSS ON HOLLYWOOD HILL
The cross began to burn with love into my heart again, like the feeling I had in front of the Shrine Auditorium, the love I felt was indescribable, the joy I felt was out of the world, beyond anything I ever experienced before, these were the feelings, the experiences, the facts, in front of the Shrine, and before the cross. This settled my doubts forever, that Jesus was the only way, to experience this NEW BIRTH. People may have other names for HIM in other lands a cultures, but they better have the person right, of they will not experience this SALVATION. There is only one way to the FATHER through the HOLY SPIRIT, no matter the up bringing, culture, geography, name you use, it better spell JESUS, SALVATION, SAVIOUR, because that's what HIS NAME MEANS in the ORIGINAL HEBREW. After that experience never again have I had any serious doubt that Jesus is the FIRST BORN from the dead, the CO- CREATOR with the FATHER and the only one that ultimately can bring one to the throne room of GOD. It's not to say that there are not other prophets and holy men on earth past and present, but I am testifying that JESUS is the ONLY WAY that I could have been brought to the THRONE ROOM. Upon returning home, life was different from then on, people, my friends, began to quiz me and even ridicule me testing me to see if I would break. but I didn't, they did, one after the other, they came to me in the night to really talk to me about what happened. Though before, in the day, they mocked me. Yes you will be mocked also and tested, when you believe to the point of the NEW BIRTH in God in Christ by His Spirit, but withstand the test, complete your trial, for in doing so, you will be like the angels, saints, most holy.
THE FINAL SHOW DOWN WITH MY BEST FRIENDS
upon returning home, as I shared already, my friends tested and taunted me. But the final show down was like this. All were gathered together one day in the commune I lived in. Since my future wife and I were the only ones paying rent. i had to give my best friends their ultimatum. They had to leave the house. One by one after a very dramatic scene, they walked out the front door. The last thing my ex-former girlfriend Sally said, was that I didn't have a friend in the world. She was right, the world walked out my front door. I locked the door, and for the first time, in the history of the commune, there was no traffic. I only person of note that was not there, was my old best friend Wes Holk who was in Viet Nam. He came home later, a changed person, but not ready yet to receive Christ as Lord, like my friends before him, he tested me. But later like the rest, he came to me in the night, to ask me if It was really true. Yes there is a price to pay to commit your life to Jesus Christ. But remember, He paid it for you in advance and all you have to do is receive and believe, separate yourself in your heart from the things of this world that you know are harmful and He will give you the strength to walk away from those things. That's all I asked of God that He would give me the power to walk away from my sins. He did with the NEW BIRTH which I wasn't even expecting. I just wanted the inner strength to be whole. I literally asked God to give me something better then I already had and I would follow, very simple.
HOME OF MY OWN FOR THE FIRST TIME
After my best friends all left me I locked the door of the commune I was living in and found for the first time that I had my own home. My future wife and I shared this house and began attending First Baptist Church of Sausalito. After a few months I began to wonder if I was married before God and man. In my mind I felt committed and married yet my heart was bothering me. It was the sixties, I had asked Becky to marry me and was committed all the way, but she felt that her father would have a heart attack (to use a figure of speech) so we never got formally married. We both felt that true love was more important then just a piece of paper. But my heart was still nagging me. So one night when I asked the Lord to show me if I was really married or not, the words fornication moved across my vision like a moving sign. I knew then, that I was not married, the Lord showed me without condemnation. He had already excepted me as I was, now He was cleaning me. You have to catch a fish first, before you can clean it an old timer said years later.We continued living in the house together, but in separate rooms. The next few months were wondrous, joyous filled with personal victories. God saw me thorough the good times and the bad. The bad times were far and few the good times seemed to last forever. I couldn't hardly wait to wake up in the morning to see what God had in store for me today.
Those early days were wondrous and glorious, 'before ye pray, I will answer' so the good book teaches and so was the wondrous experiences of the early days. Like a child, God provided for in marvelous ways, by answering the earliest prayers. For instance when a dog would be barking it's head off with saliva flying from it's mouth, with only a fence to protect me, " a wire one at that", God would silence the raging beast in an instance by His angeles, least I have my peace disturbed....to be continued