Aloha from the Island of Kauai,
I am very fortunate to have lived on this beautiful island for over 45 years. I’d like to share the story that led to my coming to Kauai in 1974.
I was born and raised in Philadelphia. Mom and Dad raised six children of which I am the eldest. They sent us to Catholic schools for grades 1 through 12. I don’t remember ever missing one Sunday attending church during those years. It was like a weekly parade with the eight of us walking several city blocks to and from church services. In my younger years I had an intense desire to dedicate my life to learn about God, entertaining the thought of becoming a priest, or perhaps the pope. We attended catechism (religion) class every day of our schooling.
After graduation from high school in 1967, I moved away from home to attend a state college. I attended church for several Sundays on my own, but soon I discovered other interests. There were a lot of changes sweeping across the nation, and I was not exempt: the Vietnam war, the Beatles, Flower Power, Washington D.C. marches, LSD, Eastern mysticism and Woodstock. While in college, I turned to alcohol, drugs and heavy metal. After making dean’s list in my 3rd year of college, I dropped out of school and began on my path to enlightenment. I read everything that I could get my hands on to appease the insatiable desire to find God—wherever He was and whomever He may be.
I became completely estranged from the religion of my upbringing, considering it nothing more than traditions, rituals, and meaningless ceremonies. I became intrigued with anything related to Eastern mysticism: yoga, meditation, gurus, vegetarianism, India, sitars and music. For the next several years I traveled throughout the country studying the writings of several gurus including: Baba Ram Das, Yogananda and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Transcendental Meditation). I finally became a devotee of Maharaj Ji. I lived in an ashram in West Philly with about forty other devotees.
We would meditate and practice yoga everyday; while in the evenings we would welcome visitors into “satsang” sessions, in which we gave testimonials of our experiences with “Divine Light” from within, attributing these experiences to our 8 year-old boy Guru, Maharaj Ji. Working at an organic restaurant which “Divine Light Mission” owned was required and we were not paid. In additon, I worked an outside job cleaning railroad box cars and turned my paycheck over to the head of the ashram. I was asked to move the Miami ashram and then, eventually, move to Bogota, Columbia, to help spread the “Divine Light.” I agreed and moved to Miami. The Bogota mission trip was called off by our superiors and later I suspected that it may have been a cover up for a drug deal.
I drove to Montrose, Colorado for a three day spiritual festival sponsored by Divine Light Mission where various Mahatmas gave their discourses. My favorite teacher was Mahatma Fakirnand. Devotees from all over the country were invited to visit the ashram of Guru Maharaj Ji and his Holy Family in Hardwar, India. About seven jumbo jets full of devotees from throughout the country traveled to India and lived together for one month at the ashram located on the Ganges River. We meditated and received discourses every day and conducted meetings in the evenings outside the ashram in public meeting places. A friend and I left the ashram in the last week without permission and took a train to the foothills of the Himalayas. We hired a guide and ventured into the hills to meet mystics living in caves and huts, hoping to find the final key to enlightenment. We rejoined the fellow devotees and flew back to the U.S. physically sick and disillusioned.
I did not return to the Philly ashram. I moved back home with my parents to recover. I got another job, saved some money and bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii. After 6 years of traveling and searching, I was very weary and losing hope that I would ever find the truth. I had very little money left so I moved from beach camp to beach camp for several months, living in a two-man tent and an old car which I purchased for $150.
A fellow camper invited me to go to a small local church that was meeting in a converted garage because they fed visitors after their meetings. I hadn’t been to any kind of church in years, but the idea of a free meal sounded pretty good to me. The church service was different than any other one that I had ever attended. The people were happy, singing songs and playing musical instruments with such devotion that I was drawn in to sing with them. At the end of an inspired message from the Bible, unlike any that I had ever heard before, I went forward for prayer. I didn’t understand a lot of things that happened in that little church, but I knew that those people had found something that I had been looking for. I wanted what they had.
That day I asked God to forgive all my sins, accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and invited Him into my heart to live. I found what I had needed all along – my Savior, Jesus Christ. That was over 45 years ago! Praise the Lord!
Pastor Carl Faford
Island Worship Center
4414 Hokualele Rd
Anahola, Kauai, Hawaii
Call (808) 482-4941