by Rev. Austin Miles
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Assemblies of God has worked hard to keep this quiet. Fasten your seat belts. Jim Jones was mentored by and received his training by The Assemblies of God, the church organization that has continually attacked Rev. Austin Miles for 30 years.
The Grand Wizard of The Assemblies of God, Thomas Zimmerman, contacted me by phone not long after I was ordained, and said, "When you are in California I want you to speak at the People's Temple in San Francisco. Brother Jones would be greatly blessed by your ministry."
I knew nothing about Reverend Jim Jones or the People's Temple. Yet I had such a strange gut reaction that I made some excuse to Brother Z, and took a church in Oakland for that weekend instead.
Good reports began coming in about Jones.. He had risen from his humble beginnings as an Indiana farm boy to a position of influence few other citizens of San Francisco had ever matched. He had opened the doors of his first church, The Christian Assembly of God, in Indianapolis in the late fifties. Before long, he moved to Ukiah, in Northern California
Reverend Jones had a special "burden" for people without a purpose in life. People in that category flocked to him. Starting with a bunch of drifters of varying ages, he built a bustling church that drew five thousand people to its morning services and evening sermons each week.
Those who knew him during his early ministry in Indianapolis have described him as a dynamic but calm man, and were quick to point out that his concern for the poor and non-white was genuine by every indication. A majority of his followers were black. Many were ex-convicts and down-and-outers with nowhere else to go.
A soft spoken man off the pulpit, Reverend Jones' evangelical flair when he addressed crowds seldom failed to bring them to their feet. He moved People's Temple from Ukiah to San Francisco in 1970, and quickly became a force in city politics.
The "plain sincerity" of his concern for the poor and underprivileged won endorsements from many prominent people. Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr., San Francisco Mayor , and Los Angeles Mayor Thomas Bradley were among the many luminaries who called at People's Temple to pay their respects. Mayor Moscone was so thoroughly won over that he made Reverend Jones head of San Francisco's housing authority.
Reverend Jim Jones had a remarkable ability to organize and activate people, turn out campaign workers, and assure a large bloc of votes for the candidate he favored. During the 1976 presidential campaign, swung through San Francisco to make a last minute campaign speech for her husband. Rev. Jones bused in nearly 600 of the 750 people who showed up to hear her. Reverend Jones received a louder ovation than did the soon-to-be First Lady.
In the prime of his life, and having attained a measure of power and respect equaled by few, Jim Jones felt directed by God to leave San Francisco and start a People's Temple utopian commune in Guyana, sharing the Gospel, farming the land and serving God unhindered.
Having become disillusioned with AG pastors seeing their corruption, greed and un-Christian behavior, I regretted not speaking in his church as Brother Z tried to persuade me to do. I had missed the opportunity of working with a true man of God in the AG which, as I had begun to witness, exhibited few.
When preparing to resign from the AG, the hierarchy feverishly flew into action to defrock me before the resignation was in, immediately blacklisting me to all churches, and to justify their action, the character assassination began.
John Mahoney, owner of the Fountain Motel in Windsor, Ontario, invited me to come and preach in his ballroom, furnished me room and board and any offerings collected would go to this ministry. He wanted the Gospel to be brought into Windsor.
While there, the sickening news of November 18,1978 broke. Jim Jones had orchestrated the mass suicide of all the members of his cult. Nine hundred and thirteen people, including children died of self poisoning, following the machine-gun assassination of Congressman and his party. Reports came out of perverted sex, drugs and brainwashing in that cult masterminded by this Assemblies of God trained minister.
I went into deep depression. I had left a highly successful and well paying career to serve God, thinking church leaders were honorable. How many of them were like Jim Jones who disguised his mental illness by cloaking it with Christianity? It was the perfect mask for a mad man What had I done? Plus, I was dealing with harassment, threats and interference in everything I tried to do by the AG foot soldiers.
Everyone tried to distance themselves from the Jim Jones connection. San Francisco wanted no more 'Christianity.' The AG has the same effect. This is what is known as 'collateral damage.'
Once in a cult one cannot leave it. The Assemblies of God reflect that very thing. If you leave that church organization, you will face consequences for the rest of your life. Why? To protect the hundreds of millions of donor dollars that support lavish perks for the hierarchy.
There was a Congressional Investigation of the Jim Jones "ministry." Perhaps it is time for another Congressional Investigation into the organization that created him, .
Next up: "How Sincere Are They?"