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Today, January 15th is my SPIRITUAL birthday, when I officially began my path “coming towards Jesus”.

It was 1980 – the beginning of a new decade. It was going to be MY DECADE.

Fresh out of a 4 year Air Force career, 22 years old and ready to conquer the world. But inside, I was empty, and lonely.

Back in Oct/Nov of ’79, I had been walking around, on a Friday night, in the bustling burrow of Westwood, in Los Angeles. I was leaving my fav munchie spot, and began jay walking across the the street in the middle of the block. I looked ahead and could see a guy looking at me “too intently”, so I kind of swerved off at an angle to avoid him. It was too late. He cut off the angle and pounced on me.

I kid you not, the first words out of the man’s mouth to me were:

“Do you know that Jesus loves you”?

He was maybe 5’6. Thick mustache. Disheveled looking – Collumbo-esque. Quick, big, honest smile and a sparkle in his eye. He had a distinctly Brooklyn/Los Angeles accent. He told me his name was Chuck Jacobs. He was raised Jewish, now a “Jews For Jesus”, and he had been coming out on the streets for months, street witnessing.

He told me that there was this really exciting, new church that meets in a local school, called The Vineyard Christian Fellowship. He said they meet on Sundays, and he would love for me to visit. He continued on that there were amazing people attending the church, inspired music, and a ton of pretty girls….. Whaaaaaaa…? The next Sunday I was there!!

I showed up a few times, there in late ’79, but it didn’t really quite “stick”. I stopped going, but I did start to read the Bible they had given me.

So then came the new year – 1980! So full of anticipation.

A week into it and I was depressed out of my brains. I called Chuck and asked him “what else is there”? I liked your church, but I’ve been doing “church” (Catholic) all my life. I want MORE!!

He said to come on Tuesday night to a bible study at a home nearby. So I showed up and had a GREAT TIME, meeting these beautiful, loving people, “one-on-one”. I was overjoyed. Felt right at home.

After the meeting, I asked that whoever would like to attend is welcomed, but I would like to go upstairs right now and ask Jesus to become my Lord and Savior. That is what we did.

A brand new “30 fold christian” was born that day.

They called me “smiley” for the next 6 months.

I was so happy to finally “meet Jesus“!! For the first time in my life I felt really alive!!!

Chuck Jacobs told me later that after MONTHS of street witnessing, I was the only “fruit” he could identify from his efforts. I owe him a great deal.


Hard to believe it’s been 39 years.

Russell Dibird