This history of David Geftakys' behavior in San Luis Obispo was written by Kirk C. to Danny Edwards in August, 2001 at Danny's request.
San Luis Obispo started breaking bread in June of '83, this was nine months after Keith and Jeff came here from Fullerton. They came preaching the gospel and praying and in this brief period a core group of about a dozen believers had been raised up by the grace of God to stand together and worship the Lord Jesus. The speedy work that God did here was a testimony of the power of God. The following two years were a testament to God’s movement. At the end of this time there were two sisters’ houses and two brothers’ houses (one with 7 young brothers another with 6) and many dear believers wanting to see His witness increase and God’s salvation known. It was wondrous in our eyes and the Lord was glorified.
In 1985 Keith and Gay were called back to Fullerton and David and Judy Geftakys were sent to be full time Workers in San Luis.
David and Judy had spent some time in the Midwest in Tuscola, Chicago and St. Louis. Over the years both would recall in stories some of the problems that had occurred in these places. I never realized that the problem was possibly not the Midwest gatherings but with David and Judy themselves. Before their arrival in SLO they had spent the last few years in Fullerton. During that time Rebecca was born and David contributed to the Aerial business. David rarely went to meetings and he only worked part time. Many looked at his life with suspicion and quietly questioned his example.
When David arrived in SLO he informed Jeff and myself that he would be receiving funding from the Lord’s treasury each week. He was in control of the treasury and would receive a stipend. It wasn’t until approximately ten years later that the Work acknowledged him as a full time Worker. In all that time he never received a paycheck from being employed. During that time I was questioned multiple times concerning how David was provided for because his means of provision was never communicated.
A side note is that with the arrival of David, Tim Geftakys stopped visiting SLO. Before David lived here Tim would visit often, I consider him one of the fathers of the Work here but when his brother arrived he didn’t visit for years. He might have visited one time in ten years.
In the years after David’s arrival (including from ’85 to ’94) many lived with David and Judy. I lived with them for four years, Mike Duwelling lived with them almost 6 years, Roberto and Jenny Sanchez lived with them, Greg and Marcy Holder, Sean G., Rob K., Jeff and Nancy Lehmkuhl, Brian and Susan L., Paris T., Robert A., Mark B., Brent T., Craig R., Nathan M., A.D., Dave Steepleton… I have queried most of these individuals (there were many others) there is little witness to any physical abuse. Yes, there were times of rage and wrath by David that were not becoming of a servant of Christ but this was overlooked by all who noted it with the justification that even our Lord was angered at times. A. D. was kicked out of David’s home because he questioned David’s authority. He was belittled by David and called a woman and a wimp.
During this time I know of no one that came into fellowship as a result of David or Judy. We had outreaches twice a week, but in all the years they were here I never saw David on outreach preaching the gospel. This was justified because of his diabetes. He was so often sick that there were times that it was not uncommon to see him once every two months, but even in his sickness he would rarely miss a Monday night outing with Judy, his exercise regimen or his midnight drives. His smoking was kept a well-guarded secret. This habit was justified as a help to his diabetes but he openly preached that smoking was not sin. During the times of stated ministry on Sunday afternoon or Wednesday night when it was scheduled for David to preach it was routine for one of the other leading brothers to back him up just in case he would be too sick to show. The habits of the David Geftakys and his family were justified by many (including George and other Workers) for various reasons, he’s a sick man, he’s George’s son, he’s eccentric... Although sent to SLO as a Worker he rarely went to the monthly Workers meeting in Fullerton and had no accountability for his schedule, the use of his money, and his health.
With the current news events concerning stem cell research I am reminded that David publicly stated his participation in a Santa Barbara medical program where viable embryos were destroyed for the sake of his diabetic experimentation. Testosterone steroid use for his weight lifting gain and viagra for his sex life were part of a program that was funded by the Lord’s treasury. This in a ministry that discourages the opposite sex visits in homes where chaperones are not present because of how it might appear to others. And indeed the appearance of evil should be avoided, but in the case of David excuses were made and justifications applied. What is of note here is that David’s life style appearance was never brought into account, his midnight drives were never questioned, his muscle car extravagances were indulged and his dysfunctional home was allowed. In 1Timothy 3:7, leadership is called to have a good report before all, but in David’s case it was never applied.
It was not until 1994 that I learned that David had beaten Judy. I don’t know if it was the first time that abuse occurred in San Luis Obispo but it came out at this time that it had happened multiple times before. It had occurred before their commendation to the Work here. Rachel witnessed her Dad violently abusing her mom at their Carhart house in Fullerton. Gay Walker Mau knew of David’s abusiveness before his arrival in SLO and she had reported it to Betty Geftakys.
It would not have come to my attention at that time if it were not for the personal witness of Marge T. Marge was the mother of a brother in fellowship; she had taken a sabbatical from her teaching career to visit us for a year. She was living with David and Judy, helping Judy with her home schooling. During her stay here Marge heard Judy scream out and heard David fiercely beat Judy. At the time it was described by a third party as a wrestling match where David and Judy were both at fault so it came as a surprise that Judy would witness to multiple beatings and David would admit to spousal abuse in a meeting where leadership attempted to hold them to account.
The leadership at the time consisted of Jeff, Greg and myself. For a couple of months after this episode we attempted to hold David to account. It was clearly communicated that David and Judy would be counseled and helped by brethren from Fullerton. Arrangements were made that David and Judy would meet midway on a regular basis to receive counseling concerning David’s abuse for healing in their marriage. In the following 6 years I believe this happened once with the exception of the last meeting just before Judy left.
Approximately two years after the witnessed beating David beat up Rachel. After David caught Rachel talking to her boyfriend Mike David reacted by punching Rachel out. Rachel’s witness was that if Rebecca had not intervened by yelling, "You’re killing her", she was afraid David would have murdered her. After this event Rachel left the home again to live with her boyfriend and had a court restraining order applied to David. Jeff was there in the courtroom with David when this restraining was ordered.
In all the years of my contact with Judy, outside of the meeting where there was the one episode of abuse, she never voiced any fears of spousal abuse to me. She never requested of me any help concerning David’s abusiveness. Jeff has cited one occasion when Judy showed up fearful of returning to her home because of possible violent ramifications from David. Apparently they, Jeff and Judy, called Betty and informed her of the circumstances. Betty then counseled Jeff to go with Judy back to the Moro Bay home to make sure that David would not be violent toward Judy. I was never informed of this episode.
There were multiple times when a heavy silence was hung over matters like these. I was a leading brother but I discovered afterwards that many things were kept from me. I was in Riverside on a MTT when I called the Geftakys home for prayer requests when Judy opened up to me about the court order restraining David. Shortly after hanging up with Judy I received a call from Jeff where he entreated me to be quiet about this event. George had requested that no one know about it and so could I please not tell anyone. Jeff was a true disciple of David. If anyone knew what was going on in the Geftakys home it was Jeff.
There remains a different version of witness between Jeff and Brent concerning what Brent told Jeff. Brent believes that when he ate lunch with Jeff and Mark Miller he expressed serious concerns about David’s present abuse of Judy. Brent also recalls sitting poolside at his home next door to David and Judy’s with Jeff and hearing yelling/screaming between David and Judy. At this time, according to Brent, he used the occasion to further communicate that something needed to be done to stop David. Jeff does not recall these events the same. He remembers the meeting with Mark having a different emphasis and the episode at the pool as a shouting match between Judy and Rebecca not David.
Mike and Cheryl Zach spent a month trying to help David and Judy while living in their home. This month of assistance was shrouded in mystery; no one was told why they were here except to try and help David and Judy. They became familiar with their marital strife and it continued as before without any intervention or accountability.
In all this, 1Timothy 3:3&4 and 5:19&20 were never applied to David or even verbally discussed. A blind trust was placed in the counsel from Fullerton itinerant ministers. It was simply that David was being held accountable as a full time Worker in the Work. I say blind trust not because of any malice or evil intent but instead a wrong assumption on our part that all would be well, all would be taken care of by the Work and if there were any need for accountability or discipline we would be properly directed.
David used the pulpit to justify himself. When entreated by Marge T. about his dysfunctional family, he preached that the Christian family is different from the world and will be labeled dysfunctional. When entreated about his smoking he would preach that there is no sin done to the body but the sin of fornication. When Judy is entreated about modest dress, David preached about how Christians should not live by rules, including rules about modest dress. When the testimony of his life was in question, he would preach, ‘Woe unto you when all men think well of you", thus voiding all concerns that his personal testimony was a shame. A couples meeting was used by David to propagate his belief that the battered wife should remain with her abusive husband in the direst of circumstances.
This use of the exercise of a leading brother/full time Worker for the justification of his own vices was never addressed in David’s life. David railed upon Aaron, Sean, Will & Patty, Tom & Sally, Victor, Paris & Marge and all the leadership at one time or another. It was a common occurrence to see David’s rage at leading brothers meeting. He would threaten us that we would not be leading brothers anymore if we didn’t shape up. As Proverbs 9: 7 says, "Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse." David proved himself such to all these who dared to cross him. My personal witness during these times is one of great sorrow. Regret that I was not a man of enough courage at the needed time, able to confront David in his sin.
So lets add some of this together. David is sent to SLO when making very little contribution in Fullerton. His health is an excuse for hardly ever coming out but he is sent to a prospering young work where he will be the only mature example. He is immediately funded by the Work as if he has been supported all along. He has had a history of spousal abuse, smokes cigarettes, drinks alcohol and has some wild ideas that reek of eccentricity. I could elaborate into the details of David’s sin and the devastating consequences, but instead I must ask why? Why was this allowed, why didn’t Workers oppose such foolish direction? Why did George direct in this way?
There is peril in ministries that have leadership by members in a family, nepotism. Preferential treatment for the promotion of family members was a danger to the New Testament work in the days of Paul and it continues to be a danger today. The preferential treatment of a father to his son is the result of a father’s ego being expressed, wanting his son to be something to the degree that indiscretions are allowed. The preferential treatment that has been extended to David through the years is a result of his father wanting him to be something in his ministry. In the past George would brag about his whole family being ‘in the ministry’. Preferential treatment was what sent David to SLO, funded his stay here, kept him here when others were recommending a move and preferential treatment overlooked his sins.
When the Lord uses a man in a worldwide way, as He has used George, the watchword for that individual must be humility. There is a need for this one to continue in entreatable meekness. In contrast to this what I see in George is: he considers himself a great intellectual, an apostle whose exploits are to be compared with the apostle Paul, a poet who deserves a penname (who burdens the ministry with the cost of publishing his prose), a literary great, a great energetic force, someone who spends a minimum of 4 hours in the word a day so we would have ministry from the kitchen of heaven so profound that it must be asked, "What did he say?"
I know of no one who is comfortable around him as a simple companion in basic friendship. No, he is Brother George, the head steward of the Work and worthy of double honor. Double honor has come to mean without accountability and to be without peers. I once called him George and was entreated that I was not his peer and should address him as "Brother George". This entreaty given by the man that preaches we should have no titles and PhD means "phenomenally dumb"… Reverend is to be reserved to God’s title and we are all just brethren. Somehow, though this has come to have a certain elevated distinction - there are brethren and then there is Brother…so and so. I use these points not to insult but to illustrate what I believe to be a root cause to the ugly mess here in SLO.
It was requested that I write down what I believe needs to occur for recovery in SLO. As previously stated proactive repentance is the only way to true recovery. In my meditation, ‘Sin In The Camp,’ the two processes described are the process of discovery and the process of recovery. Discovery is what my memory here in ‘A SLO History’ has attempted to in some small way accomplish. There are at least two levels of accounting in this history. In one we see the local responsibility. Here is David and how the leadership here compromised in it’s dealing with him. In the other we see the Ministry’s (the Work) responsibility in sending him and extending to him the kind of preferential indulgence that David’s abusive nature took advantage of.
Previously I had stated the following concerns which demonstrate that repentance is not occurring.
the Work abandoned David’s family and the Assembly in San Luis Obispo to David’s abuses. We trusted this ministry to hold David to some earnest diligent accountability, counsel him in his sins and relieve him from his duties, when scripture demanded it, in a timely manner. George and the responsible Workers, for whatever reason, violated this sacred trust. For some reason, now that David is no longer a Worker, no longer supported and can no longer preach, it is now believed that the Work has faithfully made wrongs right. This is like the poor negligent driver who, after a terrible accident that totals both cars involved, takes his car to the junkyard and says to the other innocent driver, "Oops, oh well, that car is junked, it can no longer drive the highways. All will be well now."
There has been no admission of failure by the Work, no confession of negligence by George or any other Workers. How does this utter silence contribute to recovery? If there is a will there is a way to get Judy a letter of peacemaking reconciliation attempting to "leave… the altar… and…be reconciled". There is such a need for truth and light, a need for acknowledgement and clearing. If this ministry is a man-made venture, fragile and capable of collapsing with the failure of its leaders, then we must keep this quiet and admit no culpability. Sweep this episode under the rug and take the eventual fallout. Time will pass it will be forgotten and we will move on. But if this is God’s work, where men have sinned, then we must hang the laundry out to dry in the Sun of His Light. We must seek reconciliation ignoring the consequences and trust Him to let rise from our mess His glorious grace.