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In October 1972, University of Florida student Tom Cameron pulled up at a stoplight in Gainesville. He was, he remembers, "in a very, very bad state." Lonely, disillusioned with the party scene, struggling with a drug and alcohol problem, he found himself sitting behind an enormous red schoolbus with Jesus painted on it. Then he noticed the bumper sticker that said, "Honk if you love Jesus."

"I was so bitter and angry inside," Cameron remembers, "I pressed my car horn and held it until the light changed."

Weeks later, after he committed his life to Christ on one especially lonely night, Cameron felt an urge to find the people on the bus he had blasted with his horn. Something about the togetherness he glimpsed at the stoplight intrigued him. Besides, with hair halfway down to his waist he had had trouble "connecting" with people in more traditional churches.

The busload of young people turned out to be the Jesus People Traveling Team, USA, a group of countercultural communal Christians traveling the country by bus, doing street witnessing, holding concerts at churches with their Jesus rock group, Resurrection Band, and passing out copies of Cornerstone, a hip evangelistic tabloid. Now located in Chicago, Jesus People USA (JPUSA) still includes Tom Cameron plus 500 others. This year it is celebrating two decades of growth and ministry.

Cameron was not the only child of the seventies seeking an authentic community to belong to. Back then, Jesus communes, or "Christian houses," as members called them, seemed to multiply like loaves and fishes, with one 1971 estimate putting them at 600. All but a handful, however, came and went.

If community was a buzz word that failed to outlast the seventies, it may be making a comeback in the ...

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April 2001

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