|This page is incomplete, or 'under construction'. In fact it will probably always be under construction - if I'd known 30 years ago that I was going to write the book, I would have been careful
to photograph everything as I went along - but I didn't! I have almost no photos from the early days, so I've had to go back as opportunity presents and photograph the scenes (most of
which haven't changed much). I hope that for readers of the book to see these scenes will add another small dimension to the enjoyment and interest.
'At the promised time I meet with Max in a square, box-like room called H-11 in the South Court of
the college.' (page 4)
Trinity Hall, Cambridge has its fair share of architectural gems, but the South Court (or Audley Court as it has
now been renamed) is not one of them.
I suspect that H-11 is the top floor, 4th window from the left, but I've never had the opportunity of going inside
again, and can't be sure.
Box-like from the outside, and equally box-like on the inside, as I recall it.
". . . a loose huddle of people static on the pavement. In the middle, one of them is up on a chair
. . ." (page 2)
This is where it all started - that fateful encounter in St. Marys Passage, Cambridge. On the left is the
University Church of Great St. Mary's. Straight through leads into the market square - the three chimneys at
the back mark the far end of the square.
As chance would have it, the day I visited to take the picture, there was another huddle of people on almost
the selfsame spot - tourists listening to the tour guide. If the guide has been up on a chair it would have
completed the scene perfectly.
It’s late as I walk back across the deserted courts of the college to my own rooms. I
feel a little—what? Excited? Expectant? I don’t know. Just a little light-headed, I think.
I would have walked across from right to left, to my rooms which were on the top floor in the
extreme top left corner of the picture.
I'd hate anyone to go away thinking that the South Court is the best that Trinity Hall has to offer by
way of architecture. Latham Court, shown here, is not particularly old (1890) but is utterly charming.
It could almost have been created with baptisms in mind. For maximum public impact, it was ideal. (page 65)
As I recall the actual baptisms took place just to the right of the willow tree in the left picture (the tree must have been a
good deal smaller in those days.) At that time the grass sloped gently down to the water, so you could just walk in. Now
it's been build up with wooden pilings and you'd have to jump in and then struggle out over the bank - no more baptisms
here, I fear!
The right picture is taken looking back the other way towards the Anchor pub. The willow tree is now on the extreme right
of the picture and the baptism site is centre right.
In Amsterdam I join the Anglican church . . . (page 102)
Here it is, Christ Church Amsterdam on the Groenburgwal, an extraordinary pretty
canal to which this photo doesn't entirely do justice.
The Anglican church in Amsterdam dates back to 1698, but has been on this site
on the Groenburgwal for 'only' 240 years, since 19th June 1771 to be exact.
In January I’m on the move again, this time to Amsterdam.
We have a building right opposite the Central Station, on the
edge of the red light district. Years later it will become the
international headquarters of Youth With A Mission, but right
now it’s our new Family colony. (page 78)
This spacious building was the Children of God colony back in 1971.
It looks huge, and I suspect that we just had the right-hand half of it.
For many years now its been used by the mission organization Youth
with a Mission. You can just see the sign at the top saying "GOD
ROEPT U. JESUS LOVES YOU". The alley down the right side of the
building marks the start of the red light area behind.
Not only do I love living here in
Amsterdam . . . (page 100)
This must be the most photographed street
corner in the whole of Amsterdam! It is the
intersection of two historic canals, the
Keizersgracht running from left to right, and
the Liedsestraat crossing it from
foreground to back. My home for most of my
years in Amsterdam was on the
Keizersgracht, a couple of hundred yards
up the canal to the right.
|Chapter 1 Meeting God . . .
|Chapter 8 With the Children of God
|Chapter 11 Back in Amsterdam again . . .
. . . allowed us to live in a large unused factory he owned in the south London suburb of Bromley . . .
This is not my photo, but I'm fairly sure that the rundown industrial brick backdrop is the Bromley factory where we
all lived. Several of the faces I remember clearly, though the names escape me - that would place this probably in
summer of 1971 when I was there.
It's hard to put into words the spirit that suffused us that summer - I suppose the expressions on the faces say
more than any words could.
|Chapter 6 Feeling sorry for myself in Saudi Arabia
Next to the gatehouse is a large billboard bearing the words “YOU ARE BEING
WATCHED.” (page 51)
Well . . . I should have looked at the photo before writing the chapter, rather than trusting to memory!
No matter, it's close enough.
There was a high fence round that part of the compound. Apart from the weekly shopping trip, the
girls were not allowed out, except when working.
I’ve heard stories of ancient cultures and lifestyles preserved in the remote
mountains. This should be a real experience. (page 47)
I never found the mythical Jewish village reputed to have been cut off in the remote
mountains on the Saudi-Yemeni border more than 2000 years ago, and I doubt it really
exists. The culture of Gizan area was fascinating though. This village in the Bani Malik
area was typical - a fortress-like enclave on a defensible ridge bearing testimony to the
warlike nature of the culture. And the massive, precipitous terraces extending down the
mountain sides, hundreds or even thousands of years old - who knows?
—the coral brick buildings with their wood-slatted balconies, where the women in former times
would sit unobserved and watch the world pass by outside. (page 49)
The old quarter of Jeddah is one of the very few places where these are still preserved, in the fragile
buildings build of coral blocks. In a culture where women were, and sometimes still are, effectively
confined to the house, the view through these enclosed, slatted walls might have been their only contact
with the outside world.
In the evening, as I stroll around the hospital compound in the sticky heat (page 49)
And this was the hut in that compound where I ended up living. These huts had started as
temporary accommodation for the workers who build the hospital and were scheduled to be
pulled down when the construction ended. Many expatriates quickly found these to be a more
congenial habitat than the faceless concrete residential blocks that has been build for us,
and prevailed on the authorities to keep them open.
Life in Saudi Arabia could be hard, but it had its consolations. The country is largely closed to
tourism, but while working there we had free reign. Here are just two of many fascinating sites we
were able to visit.
Above is a small part of the Madain Salah site. Petra, in Jordan is justly famous as the capital of
the Nabatean civilization which flourished at around the time of Christ, and from which King Herod
was partly descended. Madain Salah, almost unknown, is a thousand miles south in the Hejaz
region of Saudi Arabia, but the similarity is immediately obvious. The carved tombs, set into the
wind eroded limestone crags, extend for a mile or more across the desert.
T.E. Lawrence's ambush on a Turkish troop train on the Hejaz railway in 1916 was immortalized in
the film "Lawrence of Arabia".
Most people might be surprised to know that the remains of the train are still there where they fell,
almost 100 years ago. The railway never re-opened after the ambush. Local Bedouin over time
stripped the rails to use as boundary markers, etc.; the train itself is till lying there in the desert.
That's me in the photo, perched on top of some or other part of it.
In the film, the railway is pictured running between massive picturesque sand dunes (filmed in
Morocco, not Saudi Arabia). But of course, you can't build railways on sand dunes! This dried-up
gravel flood plain is the real thing.
Every day of that summer, we would be
bussed into central London and sent out to
places like Hyde Park or Trafalgar Square,
where the young and aimless congregated.
This is our bus!
During that strange summer of 1971 I travelled
from the Bromley factory up to central London
many times in this rather odd-looking vehicle.
As with many photos from this era, I remember the
faces but have difficulty putting names to them.
OK, definitely the Bromley factory
where we lived, and that's the other
side of the same bus.
This is Brussels! Cleaning up outside
our colony, that's me on the left with
the glasses, and Tyrus on the right. He
wasn't a bundle of fun as I recall.
This was in Belgium - I think in Leuven
where we went to present our
particular brand of revolutionary
Christianity to the theology students.
This one is actually back in London. I
put it in to show Gabriel (with the guitar
and moustache) evangelising on the
Right in the heart of central
Amsterdam, the right hand half of the
building was our colony. It's
unchanged essentially, and now is a
major headquarters for Youth With A
A magical evening in the Amsterdam
colony. Faithy (Faith Berg, daughter of
our leader David Berg) singing her
My first colony in the Children of God -
Bermondsy, London. Soon it got too
small and we moved to Bromley in Kent.