HIS PLACE AGAIN
I ended my vigil at the cross at one-fifteen in the afternoon on July 24.
Faith had sired victory.
Belief had sired triumph.
Four weeks of witnessing, supplication, and fasting had proved too mighty a sword for all the weapons in the Establishment’s arsenal.
A determined soldier at the cross had defeated the generalissimos of greed who commanded the Boulevard.
A vision glimpsed in a Beverly Hills courtroom seemingly so long ago had been fulfilled.
The third His Place on Sunset Boulevard was a promise delivered, an exultant reality, a gift from Christ.
As O.J. unchained me, the television, radio, and newspaper reporters, alerted by the staff to share our moment of thankfulness, snapped pictures and tossed out a garland of questions.
For the men of the media it was a story that had come full circle. They had recorded the beginning of the witness at the cross and now they were writing a happy ending.
For me, however, the acquisition of the new His Place was another beginning, another opportunity. So much work yet to do, so many souls yet to be saved, unbridled sin yet to be overthrown and destroyed, the psychedelic sea yet to be transformed by the pure blood of Christ, shed so long ago in sacrifice for mankind’s transgressions.
Still standing at the cross, my arm no longer shackled, surrounded by the smile-wreathed faces of the staff and several dozen kids, I ate my first meal in twenty-eight days.
Never had fried chicken tasted so good.
Some friends insisted I visit a doctor for a checkup. He pronounced me completely fit despite the loss of thirty-five pounds. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, I never felt better.
Across the street from the balcony-jawed Continental Hyatt House and Ciro’s nightclub was 8428 Sunset Boulevard, our new home. We were still in the heart of the Boulevard, still in the middle of the action. We were exactly where I wanted to be. We signed an unbreakable lease to rent the building, formerly the site of two forgotten nightclubs, The Renaissance and Stratford-on-Sunset.
My new landlord was fifty-nine-year-old William Penzner, a walking history of the Boulevard. He has owned property on Sunset Boulevard since 1942. Tough, independent, compassionate, and sensitive, he was yet another man of Jewish heritage who helped at a critical point in my life. The Old and the New Testaments had again been interwoven.
Mr. Penzner was one of the few Boulevard property owners, perhaps the only one, who would not knuckle under to the organized pressure of those who wanted to see our ministry murdered.
He told me frankly, “The insurance on my building has been canceled and I’ve had letters and phone calls, complaints from everybody on the Boulevard about my renting to you.”
A widower with no children, he was also frank about the kids who had taken over the Boulevard. “I don’t approve of the hippies,” he said. “They have no morality. Their way of life would destroy us.”
However, William Penzner understood our mission.
“I’ve seen the results of your work, how you get the kids off the Boulevard, bring them to God and help them build better lives. I believe God is spelled g-o-o-d. If everyone believed in God there would be no murder, killing, or stealing.”
With His Place once again in business for the Lord, I received an overwhelming surprise. The Sheriff’s Department invited me to explain our work and ministry to their officers!
“Thank you for your recent assistance to Sergeant Roderick A. McLendon and your presentation to his Police Community Relations Class at West Hollywood,” Sheriff Pitchess wrote me after I talked to the deputies who once had been so implacable in their opposition to His Place. “It is cooperation of this kind between individuals and agencies that helps us all to do a better job. Surely your time and efforts will add up to the success of our program. My kindest personal regards and please be assured of our continuing cooperation in all matters of mutual interest.”
An understanding landlord and a cooperative Sheriff’s Department.
God at last had put it all together for us on the Boulevard.