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Lonnie Frisbee



Pages In This Entry:

  1. Lonnie Frisbee
  2. Lonnie Frisbee and Calvary Chapel
  3. Lonnie Frisbee: Homosexuality, Marriage and Mumford
  4. Lonnie Frisbee and The Vineyard
  5. Lonnie Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher
  6. Lonnie Frisbee - The Documentary
  7. Lonnie Frisbee: Research Resources

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A hippie evangelist at the beginning of the Jesus People movement, Lonnie Frisbee was a key figure in the history of both Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard Christian Fellowship.

However, until recently his contribution to these movements - some claim neither Calvary Chapel nor the Vineyard would have existed were it not for Frisbee - had been largely ignored because Frisbee struggled with homosexuality and died of AIDS in 1993.

Lonnie Frisbee put the freak in Jesus freak. With his long brown hair, long craggily beard, dusty clothing, scent of Mary Jane and glint of his last LSD trip in his eyes, he showed up out of nowhere, at the height of the ’60s, literally on Chuck Smith’s doorstep.

Smith was just another conservative Orange County pastor. He’d moved from a small church in Corona to an even smaller one in Costa Mesa, yet had impressively boosted membership from three people to more than 200.

According to a scratchy recording of Smith’s voice in a new documentary, the pastor would look at “dirty hippies” and wonder, “Why don’t you take a bath?” But his front-porch meeting with Frisbee in 1968 was awash in the wonderful coincidences Christians point to as proof of God working in mysterious ways. The hippie was fresh off an LSD-juiced vision in which God told him he’d turn hordes of young people on to Christ. Smith’s wife, Kay, had just had a vision of her own: that her husband’s church would reach out to those damn (but not necessarily damned) dirty hippies. “I turned and saw the tears streaming down her face,” Smith says on the recording, “and I could see she was praying.” So he asked his daughter’s boyfriend to pull a random hippie off the street, bring him to the pastor’s home and let him get inside the Flower Child mindset. Along Fair Drive in Costa Mesa, the boyfriend picked up a hitchhiker with flowing brown hair, flowing scraggily beard and a Bible clutched against his dusty shirt. The random hippie was Lonnie Frisbee.

Before long, the two men bonded. Despite his misgivings about hippie hygiene, Smith was always fascinated by the peace-and-love rhetoric. And this kid’s Bible knowledge impressed him. Frisbee saw in Smith a much-desired father figure. They went on to stand side by side off Little Corona beach, dunking thousands of young people in the chilly waters for the most informal and joyous of baptisms. At his Calvary Chapel, Smith taught about the End Times on Monday nights and Frisbee packed in the hippies on Wednesday nights. Church membership skyrocketed. Young people around the land heard about “the hippie preacher in Costa Mesa” who was goofy, brusque and looked as if he’s just walked out of the Bible. “People say I look like Jesus,” he once said, “and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather look like.”

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7 Responses to “Lonnie Frisbee”

  1. T. Rich says:

    In 1969 a friend of mine who knew Jesus brought me to the Bluebird Motel in Newport Beach and I was introduced to Lonnie Frisbee and Connie. I had indulged in demonic things I will not speak of them because they were terrible sins of a spiritual nature. I spoke in tongues of devils and by them committed sins of the spirit. I remained silent in Lonnie's present except for responses of yes and no but he had no knowledge of the demons I harbored in my soul. We went to Calvary Chapel on Sunflower and Greeville which was still being completed. It was a Wed. night with about 35 people there. Most were young , in their teens and early twenties. Jim Golden, Lonnie , and a brother I only knew later as Mickey sat on the raised platform in front and the three ministered by the Holy Spirit through exhortations and gifts of healings and other evidences of the power and presence of God. I was amazed , like the sorcerer Simon, Philip met in Samaria, that such things were in the church of Jesus. After this time of unified worship and ministry the meeting was over but an "afterglow" for those wishing to stay in this Holy adoration of God and His love remained and Lonnie asked in anyone would like to have hands layed on them for prayer. Several people did and I also knelt before the three brothers mentioned. The moment hands were laid on me the devils came to retain their property. It was as though I was watching a movie because I was not in control. The love of God was like light shining in every dark place in me and healing as it shone and that light was pure unconditional acceptence. If God's voice had thundered a rebuke I would not have been surprised but the love conquered me and I was chained as I am now to the God of all grace and mercy who forgave so much so freely. Those three dear saints were used by God and the might of that all conquering love and everlasting life came into me and made me alive forever. I have had testings like Job and Jeremiah and mercies like David. I live in the Shiloh Ministries in at Beth Nimrah Buena Park, Ca. Whittier, Ca. Oxnard, Ca. Dexter , Or. and Aloha, Or. God's voice has spoken through me to reveal hidden things and secret thoughts. I have seen the things to come that can not be spoken of but are revealed to the people of God in their time. I have been a warrior in the prayer closet and used as a prophet but by that night I was born into the house of God it is that love and light that is more than anything. It was the promise of the world to come that we have as vessels of Christ Jesus. We are more than conquerors. We are Kings and priests before our God. Lonnie's face and his whole being were filled with God. That he died of AIDS is no proof he did not serve God. He was weak. God was mighty in him and used him to create hope and a heavenly path for many people. He dies because he had sinned and did things that put his health and life in danger. He was on the battlefront where demons prey upon your weakness but fainting in not a sin to death and I do not understand the doubts some folks have about this man's deeds , whether they were of God or manipulative and self deceptive. Like the man who was blind or Lazarus come up from the grave I can only say I was blind and dead and God used Lonnie and the others to make me alive and open my eyes. Almost 40 years the Lord is my God and I know I will see that brother in the Kingdom to come. Pastor Chuck Smith baptized me in the bay in Newport Beach, Ca. Calvary Chapel was built up by Lonnie Frisbee's ministry and made less than what it could have been by over emphasis on the one authoritative ministry of teaching. No church can attain wholeness and maturity through teaching alone. Calvary Chapel limits the potential of the body of Christ which is intended to function as the body of Jesus Christ on the earth. It is to operate as a Holy Spirit directed body declaring to the world the manifold wisdom of God in ways that cause wonder and break the bands of this world's loves asunder. Holy Holy Holy is the cry of those beholding the God of glory. He is our God. The Almighty and the everlasting and His own reflect that in their existence. This is the true Christian life so if our brother Lonnie died because of sin he did not die in his sin for beneath us all are the everlasting arms and the blood of Christ and God is just to forgive us our many sins because a great price was paid for our redemption. Death, where is your sting? Grave , where is your victory? David murdered a man to have his wife. Peter denied knowing Jesus. That love can not die. Thank you for taking note of Brother Lonnie and his role in church history.

  2. J. Rodriguez says:

    This is the first time I have ever heard of Lonnie Frisbee. I know of Chuck Smith and the wonderful things done through Calvary Chapel and I am astonished that someone of Mr. Frisbee's caliber has been brushed under the rug. I have been a Christian for 13 years and I now work in the ministry and I have faults like everyone else. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, but God's mercy has saved us. I believe that Calvary Chapel should be singing the praises of what Lonnie Frisbee accomplished to further the kingdom of God. You do not have to be perfect to be effective or for God to be able to use you. If it were so, no one would be able to live up to that kind of standard. I believe that Lonnie Frisbee is in heaven enjoying his rewards and receiving credit from God for every person who's life has been impacted through Calvary Chapel.

  3. Jeremy says:

    I thank God for Lonnie and his life. I agree with the two previous postings. I know that God uses the foolish to confount the wise. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Christians are not perfect. Maybe it is time far followers of Christ to remember what Jesus did, and who he is. I don't know that Jesus would be in a church hanging out with the preachers and pure... right? I think he would be reaching out to those in less holy places. I am sorry for Lonnie, and that he had to die the way that he did. The good news is that Lonnie's sin is no different in Gods eyes than anyone elses. God had a plan for Lonnie. I believe he is in God's Kingdom and free from the hell of this world.

  4. jim mclean says:

    I once heard Dr. Micheal Brown(Jewish believing scholar) say this: We ought not to limit God where He has not limited himself.
    I believe this. Some say "if it´s not in the bible, I dont believe it" But should it more so be,"if its contrary to the Bible, I throw it out"? there is a big diference. Blessing in Him, Jim

  5. It's sad that what the Lord did in a small group called Calvary Chapel over 30 years ago, he couldn't do now, as Lonnie and those like him not only would not be permitted to speak or minister in the church but would be promplty escorted out. We have traded the Holy Spirit for comfort and familiarity, we have become Father Son and Holy Scripture. Calvary Chapels sadly are now ruled by nepotism, Simony, and who you know, and by "who you know" I don't mean "Jesus", every pastor now has to be connected by blood, or by an old network of familiar faces, an old boys network. In one particular case a young Calvary Chapel pastor is married to another mega church's pastor's daughter, so he is given a senior pastoret in an established smaller calvary chapel, and the previous pastor comes to the mega church where he is now allowed from time to time and in the absense of the Senior pastor to preach to the thousands that attend this mega church, a small price to pay... it has become an employment agency for the extended family....It has been said, "it seems that every move of God begins with one man, and then it becomes a movement and finally a monument," well even though they try to wipe him out and erase him from memory, for better or worse "that man" was Lonnie Frisbee, and then the movement that God used him to beget becomes a monument....Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard's revisionist history is very different than how the Bible portrays the men God used in the Bible, men who were frail, faulted and struggling with sin, but we enjoyed their gifts, we used their calling and were amazed at their anointing, and when we got what we wanted a movement with thousands of churches then we threw them away, threw away the spark, the catalyst, and the man God used into the darkness. Men like Lonnie Frisbee come into our midst very seldom, maybe once in a lifetime to bring a fresh touch from God! and yet who was there for Lonnie when he needed help and understanding, who was there to lift him up rather than condemn him, "for when you do it to the least of these, you've done it unto me!" Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith, Gregg Laurie, shame on you....and thank God for the man that God used, because of Jesus working through that man you are where you are today!

  6. steve says:

    Lonnie came to a meeting we had at Calvary Chapel Pacific Beach back in 1982, I believe, and the spirit of God fell in a mighty way. It brought home to me for the first time, being a new believer, that God did exist, and in power.

    I don't think the quote by Di Sabatino is at all correct, about people not wanting to talk about Lonnie because he died of Aids. I've never found anyone in Calvary or Vineyard who shied away from the topic. It's the perfect opportunity to review again God's incredible grace. Here he poured out his spirit on this man still entrenched in sin--if not in action then in mind--not because Lonnie deserved it, but solely because God is gracious. He will use who he chooses. And like Chuck Smith said at his funeral, Lonnie was a Sampson type. He could never (or never chose to) conquer that sin. You don't think God didn't know the outcome before Lonnie was born? Yes he chose through he grace and mercy to use him in spite of that.

    I must say that the second time I heard Lonnie speak, now at Vineyard of P.B., he was a bit cavalier in his attitude toward God. Sometimes people think that because of God's grace--and the fact that God still uses them while they're in sin--they have a bigger portion of grace and are special than others. I've met people like that, and to a person they always use that mindset to sin juuuuuust a little more. Until it does catch up with them and they turn from their church or God.

  7. Lonnie will probably always be an enigma to the Church but his love for Jesus and the things God did through him are worthy of our attention and respect. The hurt he experienced by his own hand and at the hand of those he loved and trusted was tremendous. The Church as an institution failed him and the Christian men he looked to wounded him deeply. Yet at the same time it was the Church, as plain folk, who loved and nursed him into a wholeness and healing that left him at peace.

    http://www.vinenbranches.com/ForgiveThem.html

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This post was last updated: Dec. 10, 2006