My name is Joe Miller. I got saved in the Spring of 1989 when I was a student at Cal Poly Pomona. Larry Guski shared the gospel with me on campus and invited me out to the Wednesday afternoon Bible Study. Larry and I became friends and he tried to answer all the crazy questions a young believer has. We started meeting together for breakfast, discussing Acts 2:42 and "The 4 Spiritual Anchors.". I had dinner at Mark Miller's house and met some of the other brothers staying there at the time. I came out to the Wednesday night studies and was really excited about my new faith. I can vividly remember Jim Hayman teaching about Gideon out of the Book of Kings.
I didn't begin regularly attending Sunday morning until the Fall of 1989 or maybe the Winter of 1990. But once I did, I got involved full time. Sunday mornings, witnessing in the park over lunch, Sunday nights, Bible Studies, Prayer Meetings, the Friday All-Nights-of-Prayers, etc. I had gotten to know Tim Geftakys and Mark Miller, and even had lunch with Tim at Coco's from time to time. I attended George Geftakys' Summer School at Cal State Fullerton. He was teaching from the Gospel of John that year. I met with Dave Kennedy regularly and was discipled by him. I was challenged by Dave to really dwell on and learn the Word. He was great. Mark Miller baptized me that summer in someone's backyard pool in Anaheim. I still have the pictures from that day. My parents came and my Dad gave me a Bible that had belonged to his Father. My Dad had pretty much turned his back on his faith though, so his coming out to my baptism was a big deal. I'm happy to say that this was the beginning of both his reconciliation with God and our reconciliation with each other.
I left the Assembly in the Winter or Spring of 1991. I just couldn't accept the leaders view of women and the diminished role women played in the life of the church. I brought these concerns up with Tim and Mark and was even counseled by one of the other leading brothers. Though it was difficult to leave all of my friends behind, I just couldn't stay there any longer. Fortunately, I worked with another Christian young man who invited me out to his church. I was discipled, got involved in a small group, and met my wife-to-be there. This was a very healthy community.
We've been married for eight years now and have three beautiful children: Jonathan (6), David (4), and Hannah (2). We live in Irvine and we are attending a small community church in our neighborhood. We're just trying to live each day to glorify God and pass on a real faith to our children.
I often think about my time with the "saints" in Fullerton. I look back with a bittersweet heart. I praise God for Larry Guski and Dave Kennedy and JJ Steward and Phil Carreon and so many other young men who were just trying to sort out their place in the world and honor God each day. They shared the truth of the scripture with me and worked hard to see me grow in my new faith. My heart breaks, though, when I think about the harm the Assembly has done to so many people. I repent of the sin of pride I felt during my time in the Assembly and pray that those dear ones still in bondage there would be freed. I pray that those of us now free of that bondage would speak the truth in love, live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.
Thank You Jesus!