HOW THIS MIGHTY WORK STARTED
The History of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries
It all started with Susan Alamo back in the 1930’s. As a little girl, God supernaturally healed her of tuberculosis and showed her visions of the book of Revelation and told her she would be preaching the Gospel in the last days just before Jesus Christ comes back to earth.
Then Tony Alamo heard from the Lord in the early 1960’s, and Hollywood was Heaven’s target…the first church was a former dope den on Carlos Ave. Hippies were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, and as in the book of Acts, police were suspicious that they were on some new type of drug one evening when they came in and heard them speaking in tongues. How do you explain the baptism of the Holy Spirit to a bunch of unsaved Catholic cops?
Sue and I led all the new converts in prayer for a new building as we had run out of space. That’s when God supernaturally (by answering a prayer fleece) gave us the Crescent Heights Church. Persecution was not little, and the stories that they told about us in the press were wild and very untrue.
Of course, the government agencies such as the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Department of Labor, IRS, and many others joined in with the persecutors.
The word went worldwide, and the press clamored for interviews, pictures, and telecasts of our services including baptisms. From France it was Paris Match magazine and others, Der Stern magazine from Germany and television crews from many places in Europe, the Orient, and all continents.
All of a sudden here it is 1987, and we’re still going strong. The message was and still is—Repent, the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus Christ is coming back to earth. Repent or perish.
Our doctrine is still the Old and the New Testament of the King James Version of the Bible with no private interpretations. God’s Word means what it says!
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:17-21
This is an excerpt from Susie’s book that she had written regarding our first church:
It was Sunday. The dope den was directly across the street from one of Hollywood’s more fashionable churches. People were entering and leaving the church, dressed in all their finery. They were oblivious to the fact that across the street the devil had been strongly entrenched on a fifth of an acre of real estate. Our new convert had been his faithful agent.
For me, walking into that dope den was like suddenly being pushed into a nightmare and into the pits of Hell. That place was packed with young people, some of them no more than children. They sat huddled on the floor, dirty and filthy.
Always there is the exhibitionist. In that crowd there was a teenage girl, set on blowing our minds. She made her way down to the front, pushing and shoving. She was nude from the waist up.
Her efforts were wasted. I kept my cool and acted as if nothing had happened. Tony is nearly blind from glaucoma, and so he didn’t see her in the first place. Instead of her blowing our minds, we blew hers and the minds of the other kids who were in on the whole thing.
We ripped into that crew with hell fire and brimstone. We painted Hell so vividly that later one of them testified that it seemed to him that he could just about see the flames leaping up from between the floor boards. When we finished the message, we asked to see the hands of the ones who believed what we had just said. To our amazement, every hand went up. We made the next appeal even more pointed. “How many of you want to sincerely make a commitment to Jesus Christ, leave your life of sin behind you, and take up your cross and follow Him?” Again every hand went up. We couldn’t believe it. We had never seen anything like this before in all our ministering. Tony and I took that group at its word and took them through the sinner’s prayer. The little girl who had pranced around half nude was now crying and was trying to hide herself with her hands. Someone threw her an old coat and she eagerly threw it around herself. I looked square at Tony. “Where do we go from here? We have just inherited ourselves a dope den full of hippies!”
Service after service the kids would come, and one service was a repeat of the ones that had gone before. They just stood on the outside, unable to get in. But where on earth could we go with all these kids? We just didn’t know, and we would have been kidding ourselves if we thought we could in some way or another continue worshipping in that little dope den.
We knew it was God’s problem, so we just turned it over to Him. We prayed and expected Him to bring us the answer.
Well, the answer came rather quickly in the person of a young man named David Koelzer. Into our group David had come, like so many of the rest. He had been a photographer in Detroit and decided he’d come to California to try to cash in on some of the gold he imagined to be at this end of the rainbow. One day he met some of our kids in the street—in fact, the very day he arrived here from Michigan. He came to the church in the den and was saved.
David now stepped in to fill, without a hesitation, a need that we all had. He, out of gratitude to God and out of his enthusiasm for the work, gave us thirteen hundred dollars worth of stocks. That was a generous gift from one already letting God do good works through him. Tony and I almost literally ran over to cash the stocks, and immediately started looking for a building. We soon found one, a place on Crescent Heights Boulevard, a building that had been zoned for a church, and at one time housed a congregational church.
David’s thirteen hundred dollars looked big to us when we received it. But our new landlords made it look completely insignificant in only a few minutes. We signed the lease: The rent was a staggering five hundred dollars a month. We paid the first and last month, as they required, and one thousand dollars was gone. By the time we placed deposits for electricity and other utilities and built a platform, so long thirteen hundred dollars.
It was a wonderful transaction, first of all, from our own home where we held out for so long to our little dope den on Carlos Avenue, then to our much more spacious church out near the strip. But we clearly needed to get out away from the city, out into the open.
By now our scrubby little kids, their ranks swelled considerably, were the talk of the town. We were all over the place. People couldn’t help but realize something was taking place in the name of the Gospel of Christ. More than in any other place on earth, the Jesus People Movement had taken hold in one of the most damnably wicked spots on earth.
We saw it was impossible to go any further at Crescent Heights, so Tony and I started looking in the California mountains for something else.
At a sign designating a certain property as Sleepy Valley, we spied a rather modern-looking building—about the most modern we had seen on that end of the highway. A sign on the building read, For Sale or For Lease. We stopped the car and got out.
The windows were broken out and the place had been pretty well vandalized. It had been a restaurant and night club in times past. But now the tables were smashed. The booths were in bad disrepair, and broken glass littered the floor.
We walked around the property. A babbling brook of crystal-clear water ran southward through the property, here and there covered with big, lush green patches of watercress. Grape vines, as big around as a man’s arm, climbed high into the trees. The mountains were not so greedy but that they allowed a small patch of good, fertile land between their climb and the incline of the brook that would be perfect for raising flowers and some vegetables. There would be all the water one could ask for for the irrigation. There was a beautiful big black willow in the front of the parking lot. The majestic spreading oaks, some of them sprawled over at least an acre of space, dominated the scene.
“Wow, Tony, this is a garden of Eden! Oh, Tony, if only our kids could have a place like this.” I wanted the place so badly, I could almost taste the soil.
We held our hands and prayed. Then we went home and Tony called the owner. “Yes,” he said, “the place is for sale—or lease.”
Soon we had made a deal to lease the property with the option to buy. We loaded the kids into an old broken-down bus and every other vehicle we could get our hands on and headed out for Sleepy Hollow. Actually the place goes under the name of Saugus because it gets its mail from there.
When we arrived the kids were just overwhelmed with joy. Our very first own place! And, at long last, they were out of that hot, mean, nasty city that had been so hostile to them. They ran all over the place oohing and aahing. They ran up into the mountains. “Thank you, Jesus,” all the way.
We set about doing our business, cleaning up the place. We tore the bar out, built a platform in its place, and set up a church.
Probation Officer Remembers Alamo Church Beginnings
February 22, 1986
To Whom It May Concern:
In the early years of its ministry, I was associated with the Alamo Christian Church as a counselor and advisor. This was from the spring of 1969 to the spring of 1973 at which time I retired from the probation department.
I was living in West Hollywood at the time near where the Church held its nightly meetings on Crescent Heights near Sunset Blvd. I was interested in this movement as I was working at the time as a probation officer at the Los Angeles County Central Juvenile Hall, where I worked for seventeen years.
The Alamo young people were distributing tracts on Hollywood Boulevard and on the Sunset Strip and inviting the street people to attend their meetings. Over a period of time many hundreds of these young people, male and female, were persuaded to leave their lifestyle of alcohol, drugs, and prostitution and to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Many continued to live with the Church at the Crescent Heights home and later at the Church home in Saugus.
Juvenile Hall was badly overcrowded in those days and I was happy to work with the organization that was taking these young people off the streets and keeping them out of trouble. My contact with the Alamo Church was not an official one, but my superiors in the probation department knew that I was engaged in this work when I was off duty.
I am a born again Christian myself and a lifelong Presbyterian. I would not classify the Alamo Church as a “cult” as I attended numerous of their meetings, spoken at some of them myself, and I have never heard anything preached, or taught, but the same basic gospel of Jesus Christ with which I am familiar and with which is taught in any Bible believing church. As St. Paul put it in I Cor. 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
In the first chapter of the book of Galatians, St. Paul warns against preaching “any other gospel.” This is the gospel I have heard preached by Tony Alamo and his late wife Sue.
I have the highest regard, personally, for Tony Alamo and for the work he has done and continues to do with the street people youth in various cities of this nation. I especially commend him for his work in taking in unwed mothers to have their babies instead of resorting to an abortion.
I can think of no better atmosphere in which to raise children than that provided by the Alamo Christian Church.
William B. Holmes
Supervising Deputy Probation Officer
Los Angeles County, Retired
Alamo’s Super Christian Facilities
Letter from the editor
High on an isolated beautifully wooded ridge overlooking the Interstate near Alma is a multi-million-dollar development you may have heard about, but probably have not seen.
I was invited to tour this emerging center for the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Church by none other than Tony and Susan themselves…
Frankly, I was impressed by what I saw. Custom-built homes, an ultramodern men’s dorm, luxury apartment complex, new office building, complete swimming pool, recreation center, pre-school, nursery, tennis courts under construction, two fish-filled ponds complete with paddle boats, well-designed streets, curbs and gutters and clearing for numerous future buildings.
“Everything here is just about paid for. No long-term credit, explained Susan. “People want to see what we do with the money. Here it is, and it’s in the tax rolls. We have two kinds of construction—custom (the church center on the ridge) and necessity (apartments, houses and converted motels in Dyer, Alma, and Mountainburg). Our people get married and start families faster than we can provide totally new housing. We would have been a lot further along if it hadn’t been for all the harassment we’ve had to put up with.”
Tony injected that support for church members and the elaborate building program comes from “about 8 different business ventures” here, in California, and in Tennessee. These range from the restaurant at Alma to high-fashion clothing designed my Susan, sold and distributed nationwide by Tony.
“We are self-sufficient and don’t beg for money,” Susan added. “Our people have to have food, shelter, and clothes.” We’re in businesses that sell those things to others. That helps us provide for the brothers and sisters. We take care of our own—black, white, young and old. We have to keep up our cars and trucks, so we do work for other people at the garage. We have to have gas for the cars and trucks, so we sell gas.”
“Taking care of our own” includes providing jobs for church members, raising hogs and cattle, starting their own Christian school, providing homes, food, clothing, furniture, medical and dental care. Tony and Susan contend they do not know how many “brothers and sisters” are in western Arkansas. They come and go.” They say they do not know how many volunteers they have. “People work on one job, then sometimes volunteer to help others on another job. It’s always changing.”
Controversial, somewhat suspicious of the news media—“We’ve been burned so many times”—the Alamos indeed have mystique about them, although Susan insists they are simply fundamentalist, Spirit-filled Christians doing what organized religions ought to be doing.
Meeting the “brothers and sisters,” I was impressed with their sincerity, their cleanliness, their devotion to honest work and the Lord. Hearing their personal stories—many once were drug addicts, members of street gangs and wasted, burned-out individuals—I respected them for the changes in their lives and recognized them as happy, content people.
After almost six years in western Arkansas, no member of the Alamo Church has been arrested for any crime. And there must be hundreds of them here, based on the numbers of housing units and dozens of beautiful, healthy children I saw as I toured church properties.
Apparently recovered from a long bout with cancer, Susan is an assertive, stubborn, purposeful woman. If ERA advocates could convert her—no chance of that, of course—they would have one heck of an ally.
I find them two of the most fascinating people I have ever met. If you expect me to offer any specific conclusion about them, you’ll be disappointed. I don’t have any. Maybe that’s what makes them so interesting.
One thing for sure, they’re not dull.
Local Businessman Recommends Alamo Church
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter to serve as a letter of recommendation for Tony Alamo and the Tony and Susan Alamo Church.
It has been my pleasure to have been acquainted with Tony Alamo and the Tony and Susan Alamo Church for the past 11 years. During this period of time, I have had many business transactions with the Church as well as attending many church services and functions. I feel well qualified in saying that the character of Tony Alamo and his congregation is above reproach and hold then in high regard as being assets to this community.
Over the past 11 years I have seen the Alamo Church purchase unimproved property and turn them into the finest facilities in this area. The housing they have provided their volunteers is second to none in this area. They have also built recreational facilities, schools, churches, cafeterias, and other buildings.
It is my personal observation that the children at the Alamo Church are happy, well cared for, and brought up in a wonderful Christian environment. I feel the Tony and Susan Alamo Church is a fine place to bring up children and give both it’s facilities and Christian principles my highest recommendation.
Very truly yours,
Bobby C. Taylor
Los Angeles University Professor Impressed with Holy Alamo Christian Church Children
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this letter in testimony to the fitness of the Alamo Church in which to raise children. I am a professor in a Los Angeles University. My son, who comes from an upper middle-class family, became drug involved in the early 70’s. Although I strongly objected to his involvement in the church, I must admit he was rehabilitated and is now a caring, functional person of whom we are very proud.
On numerous occasions I have visited the church. I am always impressed with the kindness and community spirit which exists amongst its members. They also extend their interest in other people in an understanding manner. During the meal times in which I have participated, the kitchen was absolutely immaculate: the food was nutritious and wonderfully tasteful. The times in which I saw children of the church members were most satisfactory. As a professional mental health worker, I was especially interested in the personalities of these boys and girls and their interaction with the adults surrounding them. Children of all ages appeared to be happy and well adjusted and were given a great deal of attention and love from their extended community family. They evidently realized there were a large number of people who they could count on for love (that is aside from their parents) which is extra benefit in their childhood and older years.
Los Angeles, California
We are proud to say that all of the teachers at the Holy Alamo Christian Church—Music Square Church, are certified by the American Association of Non-Denominational Christian Schools.
The Curriculum we use from Abeka Books is used in over 17,000 schools nationwide with over 150,000 students.
All the parents at the Holy Alamo Christian Church—Music Square Church never have a worry about their children ever experiencing drugs, alcohol, gas, glue, pills, or the filth and corruption that all the parents in the world are faced with. Our children know about these things, but they know they are of the devil and not of the Lord. They have seen the horrible effects that drugs, filth, and corruption can do with people’s minds, bodies, and souls; and they know that life in Jesus Christ is happiness, joy unspeakable, and full of glory.
Susie has been gone to be with the Lord as of this year, 2009, for 27 years. During the time we were married, I received several visions from the Lord about the persecution we would be going through. At that time it seemed not as bad as it really would be. I wrote a piece of literature called Difficult Mountain. Another one was The Tree, where the Lord told me that I had to be a hundred million times stronger than the tree that was outside the church. I was standing out there looking at it and admiring it. I said, how can I be a hundred million times stronger than that tree? It was just before the service and I went in and told the congregation what the Lord just told me, and I said, I don’t see how anyone can be a hundred million times stronger than that tree, let alone as strong as the tree itself! And just right after I said that, there was a huge crash and the whole church shook from it because this tree took up about a whole acre and it was just an amazing tree. We looked out the window and it was the tree. The tree fell. There were no cuts on the tree. The roots were sticking up out of the ground up into the air.
Now that we’ve grown worldwide, you can’t imagine the kind of lies and persecution that backsliders and prosecuting attorneys and judges and the media say about us. It’s absolutely amazing. As it was, I had to be a hundred million times stronger than that tree. As of this moment, I’m still standing and I’m still strong in the Lord.