26 April 2003
Email: David Benrexi
Hello beloved sisters and brothers. I hope you are rejoicing that your
name is written in the book of life today. I shared in our last two letters
about two "deals" I made with God before I was saved. The first one was
when I was 19 years old. My closest friend had been shot in the head in
the jungles of Viet Nam, and my deal was that if God really existed, He
should let my friend live. In return, I would never deny His existence
again. My friend lived. The second deal was when I was 27 and awaiting
the birth of my first daughter. Afraid of possible birth defects because
of my heavy usage of psychedelic drugs I asked God to give me a healthy
child. In return I promised to kiss the baby 100 times a day for the first
year of its life. God gave me a beautiful baby girl.
Sadly I continued to live a life of sin seeking my own gratification
and exaltation, in spite of these wonderful blessings from God. My warped
view of Who God was kept me in bondage, while deceiving myself that I was
free. I thought God did what He did because I challenged His existence
and made a deal with Him. I never thought His motive could be love. Like
many in my generation, I saw all the evil in the world (except my own)
and decided His rule of the universe was shaky at best.
On April 12, 1980, Jo and I celebrated four years of marriage. We were
living in a big house in Portland, OR, at the time. Our daughters, Kelley
and Val, were 10 and 3 years old. We had a roommate who was 21 years old,
named Alice, and she was the divorced mother of two little boys, Joey and
Jackie, who were 4 and 2 years old. Both Jo and Alice worked as secretaries,
while I took care of the three toddlers plus two other little boys, Stefan
and Jason, in the basement of our home which I had converted into a daycare
center. This arrangement went on for almost a year, so we lived comfortably.
I think the neighbors thought I had two wives because I was always seen
with all these little kids, and there were two young attractive women that
lived in the house.
We had a big party to celebrate our fourth anniversary. Back then, for
a hippie couple to stay together four years was a rarity. Typically couples
changed partners or had multiple "relationships," but Jo and I had remained
faithful to each other despite the prevailing attitude of the time which
said (to quote a Stephen Stills song):
And there's a rose/ In a fisted glove/ And the eagle flies/ With
the dove/ And if you can't be/ With the one you love/ Honey, love the one
you're with/ Love the one you're with/ Love the one you're with/ Doo-doo-doo-doo-doodoodoodoo!
It's easy to see now that I didn't know what love is and mainly associated
it with the bedroom. At the party, we had about thirty people around our
age in various states of inebriation. Every one was having a good time
except me. I had several things going on with musical projects and the
daycare center which I was hoping to expand into a network of home daycare
businesses but no one seemed interested. Each person who spoke talked about
their experience, their opinion, their job, and it seemed as if each person
was only interested in themselves. Since I was only interested in me all
the talk started to wear on me, but being the "cool" guy that I was, I
kept my negative emotions to myself and acted pleasant.
In late evening when everyone had left, Jo and I were cleaning up the
considerable mess in our dining room and living room. We began to argue
about something. Neither one of us remembers to this day how the fireworks
started. Before long we were both very angry and I stomped out, which was
how I dealt with marital conflict.
Jo's method of choice was to give me the silent treatment until I admitted
it was all my fault. We'd employed these communication techniques often
in our four years together, and things usually blew over within a few hours,
or a couple of days at most. Somehow, this conflict would not resolve,
and within a couple of days, Jo and I were living apart from each other
in the same house. I moved into the basement where I ran the day care business.
Jo moved into Alice's bed room, and Alice moved into what had been our
One couple had come to that party who had been our neighbors in Sacramento,
CA at the time of Valentina's birth. In fact, Pat and Fred had a baby boy
who was born just four days before our little girl. We had become friends
back then, and now we were seeing them for the first time in three years.
They didn't smoke the dope or snort the coke at the party. Quietly, Fred
explained that they had become Christians recently. Before they left, we
had gotten their phone number. They were living in a little town 240 miles
south called Cave Junction.
About a month into this stalemate in our marriage I decided I needed
to get away. There was a little town in southern Oregon that had a reputation
for growing the best marijuana in the country, and it was right next to
Cave Junction, so I decided to take up Pat and Fred on their offer of hospitality.
I hitchhiked along with little Valentina on a Friday afternoon in May.
Pat and Fred were very glad to see us, and I planned to enjoy their hospitality
and find some weed while I was down there. As I was helping myself to some
food from their refrigerator I saw a sign Fred had written on the side
of the frig: IF YOU STAY, MORE THAN A DAY, YOU PRAY AND YOU PAY!
The next day we went out and visited friends of Pat and Fred who were
Christians, but I managed to find a dope dealer at some point and "score".
I was having fun and planning to leave Sunday morning, so when Fred invited
me to go to a spaghetti dinner Saturday evening, I dared not refuse.
At the dinner which was at First Baptist Church of Cave Junction, I
dropped Val off in the nursery where there were two pretty teenage girls
looking after about a dozen babies and toddlers. I noticed one of the girls
only had one arm and I felt a little sad. Upstairs, there were about fifty
people sitting around rectangular tables. They all seemed to know each
other and it seemed to me that because I had shoulder length hair and a
beard and was stoned they were trying extra hard to talk about how great
God was. I cringed every time someoone said something like: "Oh, God's
really blessin' me, Praise the Lord!" It seemed like that was all people
wanted to talk about. I was glad when the spaghetti was served, just to
get a little peace and quiet. The pastor who was a big white-haired man
who looked like a football coach said something about the speaker, and
I knew they were going to all go into another room, and some one was going
to act like Billy Graham, and then they were going to tell me I was a sinner
and I needed to ask Jesus to forgive me.
Just as the meal was ending and the plates were being passed in I made
my move. I stood up and walked into the kitchen. I began to fill the sink
with hot water and dish soap. As the dishes arrived I began to wash them
with great vigor. I almost never washed dishes at home, leaving that to
the women, but I was a professional guest and had washed dishes to elicit
responses about my good manners often in the past. That wasn't my motivation
this time at all. I just wanted to avoid hearing the speaker.
Before long, a lovely woman who was around sixty came and joined me.
She was the pastor's wife, but simply told me her name was Lu. She told
me it was a wonderful thing I was doing, that I was a fine young man. As
I washed and she dried, she encouraged me to talk about my favorite topic,
which at that time was David Benrexi. I talked about my musical projects
and my dreams for expanding the daycare business I had started in our basement.
She showed lots of interest, unlike our hippie friends up in Portland.
My timing was impeccable. Just as the last dish was being dried, the
people were coming out of the meeting hall bubbling about whatever it was
that Christians bubbled about. I was so proud of myself, having dodged
their foolish attempts to convert me.
All that remained was to pick up my little Valentina in the nursery,
get stoned, and go back to Portland in the morning.
When I stopped to pick up my daughter, the two girls who had been watching
her were very exhuberant telling me I must be a great father to have such
a charming and well-behaved little girl. I enjoyed their compliments but
I wanted to get out of the church because I could only take so much Christianity
at any one time. As I was getting ready to leave, Becky, who was fifteen
threw her arm open and I had no other choice but to hug her, which was
nice. When I let her go, Audra, who was fourteen and only had one arm,
was standing right in front of me with her one arm stretched out. Again,
it seemed there was no alternative but to give her a hug. When her arm
wrapped around me, I felt like I was having a heart attack. It wasn't a
physical pain at all, but it was a very real pain. I didn't understand
the pain, but it lingered. It followed me back to Portland. I would experience
it from time to time over the next three months, and it eventually drove
me to the cross of Jesus Christ. In my next letter, I'll tell you about
those last days of foolishness and confusion, and of how I finally realized
what had been staring me in the face for so many years-- that God loved
me. He really, really LOVED me.
He loves you, too. I know you know it, but I want to emphasize that
His love for you is without limit. He wants to fill every hole in your
heart and meet every need.
--David Benrexi 4-26-03
Wrap your arms around me LORD/ Tell me You love me/ I need to hear
You say You do/ Because I am in love with You/ I'm in love with You/ I'm
in love with You You wash me LORD/ And make me clean/ So in Your presence
I may dwell/ You've given me the victory/ Over all the hosts of hell/ You've
given me the victory/ And I'm in love with You/ You've given me the victory/
And I'm in love with You I am in love with You/ I am in love with You
This song may be accessed at www.mydaddylovesme.org/cd_dntg.html
It is song #5 on 'Draw Near to God'.