Victor Kubik talks with UCG pastor Jerold Aust about teaching at Ambassador Bible College and how God called him into the Church.
[Victor Kubik] This is Victor Kubik, President of the United Church of God. Our guest today on Inside United is Jerold Aust, longtime friend, pastor, author, senior writer. I’ve known Jerold since 1966. Jerold is here teaching a module at Ambassador Bible College, a very multi-talented person in that he not only is a pastor/speaker but he’s also a writer and even a musician, he sings. We’ve worked together in parallel parts of the United States in various churches and have had many, many experiences with people. Can you tell me about what the most memorable assignment was that you ever had?
[Jerold Aust] Well, I’m quick to say it was every single one of them because of the people, when we grew closer to them. And I’m not going to ignore your question, but at first thought here in my mind they were all really kind and wonderful people and they all wanted to do the right thing. Thinking back I probably, in San Diego, visited more people than at any other place. We ranked second only to New York City in those days and we got 300 new prospective members every year and I had to visit every single one of those with my wife and maybe another member or deacon of the church.
San Diego was a beautiful area and we dearly loved it, 70 degrees everyday. It was just a great place and the church grew. It grew from about 450 to about 650 in about 9 years. So we, we love everybody wherever we were. It’s been a great blessing. But we really especially enjoyed the San Diego area.
[Victor] Well that’s very, very wonderful. What, tell us a little bit about what you’re doing here at Ambassador Bible College, and how is it that you come up here? And what’s the arrangement of your coming up to teach? And what are you teaching, I’m not even totally sure exactly what you’re teaching here?
[Jerold] Oh you’re a busy man, but here’s what happened. I had always wanted to be a part of the instructors for some book in the Bible, having to do with some book in the Bible, but those were always taken and I wasn’t right here on site so I could understand why they would want to do it close up. And then this, there was an opening for Revelation, and so I just asked, I said, “You know, Christ says ask and you shall receive, seek and knock”, so I thought I’d ask. And I said, “Is there an opening for Revelation? I’ve been wanting to break into this.”
And they said, “As a matter of fact it is open.” It’s been a privilege to be able to address Revelation, a favorite book of mine, always intriguing, always demanding. I never think I’ve got it conquered by any stretch, and I think it’s just, I just keep begging God for more wisdom to be able to understand these things for the future so I can help other people.
[Victor] Well you’re also teaching Revelation for online training for the ministry, is that correct?
[Jerold] Yeah and I think you may have had something to do with that. Yeah, I’m not unhappy with that, I like that idea. My fellow brothers and ministers, they’re a joy to work with. One thing I believe in very strongly is our traditional way of, our doctrines an whatever we followed. There were certain things that took place where my belief of the Doctrines of God, the basic fundamental ones which I had learned, those things did me, you know, did me very well.
[Victor] But one more thing I’d like to talk about, Jerry, which is very interesting about your life. I know God calls us in different ways and you know we as ministers also had a beginning somewhere in Genesis and we have come to a common place of salvation. But please tell us a little bit about how it is that God opened your mind, how that happened and why you responded and so forth. Your story’s fascinating. Maybe you could share a few minutes here.
[Jerold] Thank you, I hope I don’t take too long. It really started in 1955 when my father was dying of leukemia and my mother was trying to get answers from radio programs, and she heard this man by the name of Herbert W. Armstrong and she used to listen to him. I knew my father was dying but finally he did die. I think that after that I decided that I couldn’t stay around, so in 1959 in January I joined the Navy and they sent me to San Diego of all places, and I had boot camp there and then they sent me to, they put me on the U.S.S. Lexington, I was there a year. They said, “You’ll never get off of here.”
However, the work that I did which was typing and filing and clerk work, we call that Gilman in the Navy, they sent me to Hawaii. And while I was in Hawaii I was in a squadron for a year and before the squadron left they said, “You can stay at Naval Air Station if you want to. You don’t have to go back to sea because of what you can do.” So I did, and that’s when I heard Herbert Armstrong again. And the young man that was in the cubicle with me had been listening to him.
And at first when I heard that it bothered me and I said would you please turn it down, so he did. A week later I said would you please turn it up. So he did and then I began to listen and then I thought well my first step here is to find, as he believe this so deeply, why don’t I find out about it so I can get him released. And the more I dug into it, you know the answer, that’s when God was calling me and he, I was in a, I was also in secret files, walls with three foot thick and no windows.
And I was in there with a 7th Day Adventist who believed very deeply in the Sabbath and he wanted me, he knew I was interested in the Sabbath. So I asked him, “Please don’t bother me anymore.” But I stayed and prayed every evening and I said, “God if you will show me that the Sabbath is the 7th day, I will do it.” Well he did, so I did. I did it and then I decided to tell the United States Navy in January of ‘62 that I could no longer, I had to keep the 7th Day Sabbath.
They said, “You can’t, we own you.” I said well, “I also can’t carry a rifle and stand watches, but I’ll stand a watch without a rifle.” They said, “No, you’ll do it the way we want.” So then they started in after me and I spent the whole year, I thought God would release me, after about a week, because I was a really nice guy.
And I found out that made absolutely no difference even no matter what I thought. And so two weeks went by, three weeks went by, there was no church, there was no minister there and so I’d have to get on my knees to God every evening and morning, but especially in the evening. I’d pray sometimes three hours a night, which was highly unusual for me. And because I needed help, and so he got me through one year of this, I had two captain’s mast where they reduced me in rank twice. I made the mistake of telling the captain the last time, “Sir, if you will break me one more time I’ll be a civilian.” He said, “That’s not very funny son. I can put you in jail.”
Then I had another legal officer who said that, “I’m going to, I hope war breaks out because we want to shoot you.” I said, “Sir you’re supposed to be here to protect me.” He says, “Not you, you’d be a traitor.” So they took me to Treasure Island and they decided to send me back to Hawaii. They had changed their minds. And I said, they were going to give me certain shots and I said, “No I don’t believe I’m going to take those.”
So they put me in the brig for a couple of days and they gave me another captain’s mast and then they sent me back anyway. And so I spent my last two months or three months in Hawaii. And of all things I was allowed to get out with an honorable discharge which I was really happy about. God did provide for that.
And even at the very end, the psychiatrists, the officers, all of them had known me, knew I was what they call a 4.0 sailor, which was you know spit shine all the way. And so they liked me and they wanted to save me. And so at the very end, each one of them told me privately, “Well we don’t understand what you’re doing but we have to.” As they put it, “We have to envy you for what you’re doing.” So then I got out, came to Ambassador College and that began my work at Ambassador College, February 1st of ‘63 and then I started college in ‘64.
[Victor] What a story, what a story, I mean every one of us has our stories, but yours is very, very dramatic. And what you had to go through and how God showed favor to you and how He led you through things and has brought you into the ministry and you have been a real blessing to many, many people along the way. Well we’ve enjoyed having you with us Jerry. It’s been great to have you and your wife here. We see each other daily here while you’re on your stay teaching at Ambassador Bible College.
[Jerold] Thank you.
[Victor] Well, thanks for joining us on Inside United podcast. Please come back again soon for more.