Northern Arizona University Lumberjack/May 4, 1989, by Wendy Ludewig and Lesley Mitchell
It was advertised as an “evening ringside” with former boxing champion Earnie Shavers featuring “exciting video footage” and as “inside look at the world of boxing.”
But accusations of false advertising and brainwashing, drew about 20 picketers to the Lumberjack Gym Friday night.
The event was sponsored by the Pathfinders, the campus-based organization backed by the Potter’s House, a Flagstaff Christian Center.
The protesters, calling themselves “Life after Potter’s House,” carried signs saying “Christians of Facists” and “Potter’s House Deception.”
Protester Dave Diver said he had given $50,000 to $60,000 to the church before he became suspicious, saying “alarm bells rang in my head.”
Diver, an NAU graduate who used to preach in front of the North Activity Center, said he was forced to leave the church after he asked where his money was going. He said Potter’s House needs to “open the (financial) books.”
Diver said the Potter’s House representatives said that f the event was advertised with religious intentions, less people would have attended.
“Would you tell a fish what you’re baiting the hook with?” he replied when asked why Potter’s House or Pathfinders neglected to use the organizations’ names on the program’s advertisements.
“We are to be fishers of men,” he said, referring to Matthew 4:19 and Mark 1:17 of the Bible.
Diver also said he left the Potter’s House because members are “strictly controlled” and must be in the church for six months before they can date another church member. Marriage requires a six-month engagement.
Potter’s House members cannot date those outside the church, he said.
Members also are required to contribute 10 percent of their earnings to the church, Divers said.
Another Potter’s House member who refused to be identified said members are encouraged, but not required to contribute 10 percent.
Shavers began his speech by describing some of his favorite moments in boxing.
He then went on to describe how “Jesus saved my life.”
Shavers said money, material possessions and women used to be important to him, but since he “was saved three years ago,” those things never cross his mind.
“Living the righteous life is a good life,” he said.
He warned the audience that if they hadn’t already been saved, they better make sure that their “walk with the Lord” is right before they die.
“Do not get caught in a jam one day wishing you lived the way you ought to live now. Do not leave tonight if you do not know Christ.
“If you’re a Christian and you’ve got sin in your life, please do not leave – if you leave tonight, it could be all over for you,” Shavers said.
Throughout the sermon, many of the nearly 200 audience members cried out “Hallelujah” and “Amen.”
Shavers also said that men are the head of the household and warned men to be good to their wives.
Nearly 20 minutes after the sermon began, Shavers asked people to come up on stage if their lives were not in order so they can be “saved.”
“Now’s the opportunity…this could be the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life,” he said.
He told the audience not to let peer pressure get in the way and to swallow their pride.
“Pride has taken more people to Hell than anything,” he said. “Please come forward. It’s your last opportunity.”
After the fifth time Shavers asked, two audience members came up to the stage and the crowd applauded.
After another 11 more requests, four more people went to the stage.
He said the Holy Spirit was telling him there were mote people in the audience whose lives were not in order.
After the speech, Shavers promptly left through the picketer line.
Potter’s House representatives would not comment on how much money, if any, Shavers was paid for the speech.
Dean of students Anthony Ross said the Pathfinders group is permitted to use university facilities for such events because they are a legitimate campus organization. He said he suspects that the Potter” House is using Pathfinders for that purpose.
Ross said the Office of Student Life will research the issue this summer.