Arizona 1963

[Listen to Asha read this story]

(Told by Warren Chester)

I was raised Pentecostal, went to the Assembly of God Church, Bible School…the whole package. By the time I was 19 or 20 years old, I’d already been working a few years and I decided I’d had enough of that. I wanted to go to a Bible school in Texas and become a Pentecostal minister.

But instead, I started fooling around and ended up married with a couple of kids. My mother-in-law was living with us, too. No hope of going to school, I had to work.

In 1963, we were living in California and decided to make a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I put the family in the car, including my mother-in-law, and we stopped off in Los Angeles to pick up her sister.

Right away things started going bad. Those two women were screaming and disagreeing with each other about every little thing. My mother-in-law had some serious mental problems and her sister was a nut. Even before we got out of Los Angeles, they nearly came to blows.

My two kids were just babies, and they started screaming and crying. My wife broke out in hives. And that’s the way it went, for hundreds of miles.

I prayed to God every way I could think of to “Heal the darkness in this car!” But nothing happened. If anything, it got worse. Just before we stopped for the night, my mother-in-law started yelling at me for not pulling into a boarded-up gas station when she said she wanted to stop. She just wouldn’t listen when I told her it was nothing but an empty building.

Finally, we got to the old motel in Williams, Arizona, where we were going to stay. The couple that owned it used what they earned to help the local Indians. I wanted to see what they were up to and give my money to a good cause.

The woman greeted us, suggested we freshen up and come right to the dining room where she had dinner ready for us. When we sat down to eat there was no one there but my family and the couple who owned the place.

Then in walked this guy I’d never seen before and the whole room filled with light. It was amazing.

The woman introduced us. She said his name was Kriyananda. Turned out he had been in seclusion south of there, in Sedona, for three months, and was just coming out of seclusion.

He started talking to me about spiritual things. My wife, kids, mother-in-law and her sister, just went on with their dinner as if he wasn’t there. But to me, his voice thundered. And every word he said, I knew it was true.

He spoke to me only for a short time, ate a little bit, then left to go to his room. Even though my family paid no attention to him, I noticed they were unusually quiet. Later, when we were saying goodnight outside our rooms, my mother-in-law and her sister, who had been fighting every minute of the trip, suddenly embraced.

From then on, we traveled in perfect peace.

I was a good Christian, and according to the Pentecostals, yogis like him were going to Hell. But all my prayers brought nothing. Kriyananda produced.

It blew me away. And started me on a Search. I knew I was not going to become a Pentecostal minister.

I went back to California and studied Religious Science. I became a minister for them and had a Religious Science church in Reno, Nevada for twenty-five years. A couple of times Kriyananda came over the mountains from where he lived and spoke to us.

Just those few minutes with him in 1963 had changed the whole course of my life.

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