Stories George Told
"I invented the Chapter Summary method of Bible Study!" This is probably G. Geftakys' most oft-repeated untruth. Tom Maddux posted on the Assembly bulletin board on September 20, 2005: "Many years ago, back in the 70's, I read the book Daws. It is the biography of Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators....It describes Trotman's involvement with students at UCLA in the 1930's. There is a church just north of the campus called the University Bible Church. The pastor, Milo Jamison, had been using the chapter summary method with a student group for some time. Trotman picked it up and used it in his own Bible studies. When GG was sitting in my study on day, I opened the book to that page and handed it to him. He said, "I had no idea." However, since at a different time he told me that he had attended Dawson Trotman's Bible studies in Pasadena, I suspect that his statement really meant, "I had no idea I would get caught."
"I was the son of a gypsy sea captain in Greece" George also claimed he was descended from "the king of the gypsies." Not hardly. George's father, George Sr., was from Messina, Greece (not Sparta). He was about 15 when he left Greece and came to live in New Hampshire in 1911. In 1917 he enlisted in the US military, and in 1918 he became a US citizen at Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, South Carolina. His name was spelled Gyftakis. He married a German woman in the US.
"I grew up in nightclubs and dance halls" An exaggeration. George's father had a restaurant on Hollister Ave. in Goleta, right down the street from where the Santa Barbara Assembly met. (This was sometime after 1942, when George Jr. was 15 - see above.) It was just a small restaurant with a lounge in the back that served drinks. George Sr. was a restaurant manager and part of the time the chef as well. He worked long hours that I am pretty sure George Jr. resented. So, yes, his father did have what could be considered a nightclub (if you like stretching it that much). It was hardly a Sunset strip club!
"I led my twin brother and all my family to Christ " George's brother denies this. He says he came to the Lord through a radio program, as did his parents.
"I led her to Christ." A reader reports the following. George used to tell about a couple named Rex and Pearl who came to a Bible study he taught. Pearl came in shorts and a halter top, and smoked. George claimed he led her to Christ. Well, guess who we met at a church a few years after we left the Assembly. Yeah, Rex and Pearl. And yes, they knew George Geftakys, they went to Bible studies he taught, they thought he was a gifted Bible teacher. But no, GG did not lead Pearl to Christ. They had been in the same Plymouth Brethren circles as George. We didn't ask about the shorts and the cigarettes, but is interesting, from what we know now about GG's immorality, that these are what George wanted to mention.
"Sister, she was a prostitute!" In early 1990, not long before Steve and I left the Assembly, George and Betty called us over to their house for a special meeting to discuss our issues. Betty was busy for a few minutes, and I found myself sitting with George while we waited. Out of the blue he began telling me about how a sister in fellowship had been a prostitute before coming into the Assembly. "She drove me around town one day and pointed out how previously she had a lawyer client in this building and a doctor in that one over there, and so on. Sister, she was a prostitute!!"
I was so shocked and disgusted at George that he was telling me about this--it was gossip and slander--I did something afterward that was probably unwise and unkind, but I thought the sister would want to put a stop to it. I called her and told her that George had said some things to me about her past. She told me what he said was not even true. Yes, she had led an immoral life, but she had never been a prostitute.
"God gave me a vision" I think it was in the fall of 1971 that George had a special class, entitled "Stages on the Journey." If this is the correct date, it would have been just after his first trip to Europe with Sister Harrison and Betty. In this class, which could be attended by invitation only, he wanted to "try out ideas" he had been thinking about for a long time.
Besides myself, there was my mother (Sister Mayo), Sister Harrison, and Joan H. The class met in our home on Spruce Pl. in Fullerton. As I remember it was pretty much based on Madame Guyon. Lot's of charts and diagrams, but very abstract and "airy fairy", to use a favorite phrase of his. I felt very immature and unspiritual that I couldn't understand much of it.
After one of these classes as everyone was leaving, George took me aside in the front yard and said, "Sister, I want to tell you something. This isn't something I would ever say in public, but the Lord gave me a vision many years ago. He showed me the earth, and it was completely encircled by a serpent. He told me this was my ministry. He showed me it was going to be world-wide, sister! Think of it! I was going to go to the nations! And you see it is happening!" At the time, I was still in my skeptical/rebellious stage about George, and I thought it was ironic that his ministry was represented by a snake. I wonder if the serpent looked like the one in the cover art for his poem Apocalypse XII....
Other visions and revelatory dreams ...
- Blonde woman He told someone that the Lord warned him in a vision given in a dream about a beautiful blonde woman who would be a stumbling block to his ministry. This person comments, "Sounds like he had a few blondes as well as brunettes who stumbled him along the way."
- Faces of the world He told someone he had visions of seeing the faces of all the people of the world and knew from this vision that the Lord would use him to go to all the ends of the world to preach.
- Angels attending him in human form, and other "mystical happenings in my life, that if revealed, would amaze everyone. If only only you knew what divine conversations were taking place!"
- Two men in ministry with him Dave Mauldin reported this: "One particular supernatural encounter George claimed, which I found interesting, is a story he has told many times during his messages. It goes like this. He was in a ministry with two other men and one night had a dream, in which the Lord spoke to him, "Why are you with these two other men? They don't love me!" Of course George dutifully followed the Lord's advice and left them. But after I left the Assembly I encountered a woman whose husband and another man were apparently the very men who once associated with George prior to his revelatory dream. However, the woman said that her husband and the other man had actually decided themselves to cease associating with George because he had become too authoritarian!
"I was a Marine in World War II" Another of George's
most often-repeated stories was that he had been a Marine. For further
discussion of this subject, refer to the FaceBook group page, "The Geftakys
Assembly". Early on George told Steve and me that he had been a
marine and was discharged due to a back injury
seen active duty because he was discharged after nine months.
(Steve's memory and mine differ on this.) GG did pull down his pants to
show Steve his hernia scar, though!
The story morphed over the years, but the facts seem to be that George either was drafted into the Marines after October 1945, when he would have turned eighteen, or enlisted earlier with his parents' signature. He was based at Camp Pendleton. He told an anonymous reader that he slipped and fell while he was on a ship and injured his back. Subsequently he was discharged and had back problems that needed to be treated continuously. He is buried in the Riverside National Cemetery.
A reader wrote: "One night back in the mid-1990's I was in a restaurant close to Biola College. I was reading my Bible and attracted the attention of an older couple who were in the next booth. As we talked we found out we both knew George Geftakys! This man went to Biola with George. He also was familiar with the current controversies about him. He told me that George left Biola before obtaining his B.A., but returned a year later and finally graduated. The records at Biola confirm this. After returning to Biola George explained that he had joined the Marines and was injured in an accident. 'I was wearing a flame-thrower and it blew up!'"
George told someone that he discovered he enjoyed bayonet fighting when he was in the South Pacific. When he realized he looked into his enemy's eyes before striking, it had given him a thrill, which had really shaken him. He said he contracted a toenail fungus while he was there that caused his toenails to yellow. To others he claimed a scar on his leg was from shrapnel.
A telling anecdote is recounted on the AssemblyBoard. Someone took their parents to an Assembly meeting. The father had been a Marine in WW II. George happened to tell his Marines story that day, and the father was eager to meet him. As soon as the dad said he was a Marine and asked George where he served, George abruptly ended the conversation and walked away. The father commented that George had the signs of being a phony.
Comments from readers
May, 2003, Gretchen: The stories about George help, because you can see pictures of him in all kinds of circumstances in the Assembly. It helps me see the errors for what they are. His attitudes permeated everything.
July 15, 2007, Eulaha said, "During many seminars, I remember George telling stories about how he 'saw his guardian angel'. I can honestly say that I never believed him. I remember thinking, 'This guy must be some sort of nut!' But of course, I could never express those feelings out loud."
July 18, 2007, Tom Maddux, regarding GG's night club story: "Once GG told me that he "led one of my dad's strippers to Christ." From then on I figured that the "night clubs and restaurants" story was actually just a way of getting his idea across without feeling shame that his dad was a sleaze who ran a strip joint. At one of the earliest seminars at Hillcrest park this woman actually attended with her husband. They fellowshipped in some Plymouth Brethren assembly. I presumed that that is where they met. I talked to them, and I think Steve did as well." A family member commented, "I doubt the truth of this. Did Tom ask the woman at the seminar about being a stripper and have her confirm that GG had led her to Christ?."
July 18, 2007, Tom Maddux: A few thoughts on GG's reported experience as a US Marine.
- GG told me essentially the same story of serving and being discharged due to a back injury. I asked him how his back was injured. He answered, "There was an explosion". So I asked him who caused it. He said, "We did." Since he did not seem to want to talk about it, I dropped it. This matches pretty well with the flame thrower malfunction story. One carried a couple of tanks of highly pressurized chemicals as a sort of backpack. When you pulled the trigger the chemicals mixed as they left the nozzle and ignited. They squirted 20-30 feet because of the pressure. One of those could have ruptured during training.
- Bayonet fighting. This was a standard part of military training at the time. There were three types: a) Stabbing dummies while running obstacle courses. The dummies swiveled and were fitted with an arm that would whack you hard if you didn't do it correctly. b) Pungee fighting. A pungee stick is about 5 feet long with hard leather cushions at both ends. Two men wearing boxer's sparring helmets faced off and attempted to clobber the other guy while parrying and defending against his stick with your own. I can well understand that this form of non-fatal combat could produce strong adrenaline reactions leading to a "high"...if you won. c) Actually attempting to jam the bayonet against the other guy's chest while it is sheathed in its hard plastic sheath. This must have hurt. It wasn't done much because you could damage your rifle. A Marine would not have to serve in combat in order to have done quite a bit of bayonet drill.
- Once in a "message" GG gave an illustration in which he very accurately described how to sight in an M-1 Garand rifle. He also knew its accurate range. He described how you could "click" the range and windage wheels attached to the rear sight with your thumb. All other military rifles of the era used a sort of folding ladder type sight for long distance shooting. So I have never doubted that he was familiar with the M-1, which was our standard military rifle in WWII.
- In addition, the Marines used the Springfield 06-A1 in the early
part of the war, but by 44-45 had converted to the M-1. This also
matches with the time frame of his real or supposed service. Only a real
gun enthusiast, or someone who had been trained to use the M-1 would
know this. (I have shot M-1's in the past, which is how I know.)
July 28, 2008, Bob L., Betty G's nephew, looked at the website recently, and submitted a fiery response to this section. Here is an excerpt describing an event in 1969: ...."When in town in Wisconsin where Betty’s mom lived George had a habit of slipping out, disappearing for hours. Betty, the ever pleasant door knob, "the mat beneath George’s feet”, would cover for him with excuses. (Does this sound familiar?)
One day my father had heard enough and finally followed George’s car. Guess where your church leader was going. To tend flock? The church? The rescue Mission? To share with a fellow Plymouth brother? That’s what he told us when he returned.
But no! the fearless leader, the man you all handed your life to, was actually going to the beach everyday. He’d disrobe to his hidden swim suit and then play volley ball with the college girls & boys. Working on his tan.
After the family heard this, we never gave them money and never saw George again."