When Dwayna left a message inviting me to join a small team to witness at the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), I winced and took a deep breath. Talking to people at Venice Beach is one challenge, but encroaching on someone else’s holy ground is another! I thought about it for a minute and decided to take on the challenge, knowing that the Holy Spirit would open doors for us or close them.
The three of us met at Dwayna’s apartment. The team consisted of Dwayna, Amy, and me. We prayed and talked strategy regarding our approach to the people.
The ten-acre Lake Shrine reminded me of a well-kept garden in Asia or the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. The green water lake is surrounded by lush trees, vegetal archways and picturesque landscapes. A walkway encircles the lagoon with sitting benches and grassy alcoves for meditation. On the surface, the park-like setting is a peaceful respite from the chaos of the city. In reality, Lake Shrine and The Self-Realization Fellowship is a place of deception, evil spirits, and teaching of false religions. Sadly, the people there do not know this.
Entering the center, visitors see several shrines with columns reading Judaism, Islam, Christian, Buddhism, etc. These plaques would probably make most people feel at ease, believing that they have a choice of paths to God, despite what the Bible teaches. (And the testimony is this; that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
1 John 5:11).
A small bookstore is at the entrance with various books, pamphlets, and fliers of up-coming events.“Gina” was at the desk inside the store. She was fielding questions from patrons, answering the phone, and taking orders from buyers. The three of us walked in equipped and eager to share Christ. We all talked to Gina, asking questions about some of the book titles, the beliefs of the SRF, as well as her own ideologies. As a Christian might share the good news of Jesus, so Gina revealed her personal testimony of becoming a “believer” in the 1990s. After a life of disappointments and a failed marriage, she began getting involved in yoga exercise in Beverly Hills. Not religious at the time, she continued in yoga and was introduced to the Self-Realization Fellowship from a friend in her yoga class. Gina was not a religious believer until a near tragedy caused her to shout out, “Help me, God!” At that moment, Paramahansa Yogananda appeared “in person,” claimed Gina. The Guru’s apparition had led her to believe in him and pray to him, solely convinced that he is with her daily, and caring for her, though he died in 1952.
Unfortunately, the store was frequented by people and telephone interruptions, thwarting further conversation with Gina. We left her with a Meditate on This booklet, along with Dwayna’s card. She said she would email Dwayna after reading the booklet.
We left the SRF New Age bookstore, prayed together, and the Holy Spirit flowed onto Lake Shrine. For the next hour, we freely and openly spoke to one person after another as we walked around the gardens. Starting conversation was easy with the movie, The Passion of the Christ, just released in the theaters.
Our plan was to have one person talk to the visitor and the other two would pray and listen. From our initial question we asked them what they believed. Many were open and willing to share their beliefs. We continued to listen and then asked them what they knew of Jesus. From that point, we shared the good news of Christ. Every situation was a little different but the underlying purpose was to share the Gospel.
We were able to talk with more than ten people, most of whom were not sure what they believed. Some actually seemed glad to learn more about this Man, Jesus (praise God!). In some ways, Lake Shrine was divinely prepared for the sowing of the good news of Jesus Christ that day. We spoke to Hindus, non-practicing Catholics, professing Christians, and others who were “spiritual but not religious.”
Concern of forced dismissal was all together real; we didn’t want to overstay our sneaky engagement so we began walking back. Before leaving, we stepped into the Windmill Chapel and Meditation Room. Inside were about a half-dozen people in chairs, facing a wall with five to seven pictures of ancient teachers and prophets, including Jesus. The room was silent. We stood at the back and prayed for people, hoping for the chance to proclaim the Gospel to some of them as they left the room. The young women sitting in front of us were the only guests, other than us, with their eyes open, looking around the room. Soon, they sat up and walked out. We followed, and Dwayna proceeded to ask them questions about Jesus while Amy and I prayed. They were from Russia and said they were “born Christians” but did not know much about Jesus and could never recall repenting of their sin. Dwayna had a nice conversation with the curious girls, shared the Gospel, and left them with a Meditate on This booklet/tract.
We realized the people were seeking after something other than themselves at the Self-Realization Fellowship, and God had us there for a reason. Seeds were planted, and questions about Christ were answered to the best of our ability for the place and time allowed. Maybe, with the wooing of the Holy Spirit, someone will read the literature we gave them and be drawn to seek the true and only Savior; the second Person of the Trinity; the true Jesus; the Redeemer for every tribe, tongue, and nation.
…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)