KEYWORDS: jus, dad, things, music, sally, way

Gene's Report on Justus Ashtree


DO 954-217 June 1980

—From a Personal Staff Member.

Dear Dad & Maria:


SINCE THE TIME THAT I HAD KNOWN HIM‚ I ALWAYS HAD A HIGH RESPECT FOR HIM for reasons which I will describe later. It wasn't until I came to live here & was able to see him from a different perspective & see other samples of how things should be that I began to re–evaluate him in my mind. I've also seen that my "respect" for him was in some ways just plain fear. And that is one thing that makes it so hard sometimes to work with him.

I HAD KNOWN HIM IN BROMLEY & CHINBROOK, but it wasn't until he was put in charge of publications at the Stirling Buildings in London that we got to know each other better. He would always have me & others come to his room & we would discuss the work & other things, & he always seemed to me to be very interested in us & our work & that everything was going good with us.

THIS WAS DURING THE DAYS OF THE LONDON EXECUTIVE COUNCIL of which he was a part. He sometimes would discuss with us things that were discussed in that Council & ask us our opinions & what we wanted & thought was right, etc. This really made me feel trusted & respected, because no one had ever done this before.

I REALLY LIKED HIM BECAUSE I FELT HE WAS FIGHTING FOR US & OUR NEEDS, ETC. He also often seemed to be fighting for & helping the underdogs of the area. To say the least, I thought he was the best leader I had ever worked under & I wanted to continue doing so. But shortly thereafter, I was sent away, & it wasn't until three years later that I came to work with him again in Portugal.

I WAS QUITE HAPPY TO WORK WITH HIM & SALLY, & most of all I was happy to be working on the Letters again. We worked, or rather I worked under them for the next two years until I came to be here. I guess it was seeing the difference from the way things were run here & the way they were run there that helped me see what kind of person he was & what kind of person I was.

JUS ALWAYS HAD A HABIT OF CRITICISING PEOPLE no matter who they were. It seemed that whenever someone was mentioned for whatever reason, only bad things were said about them. I soon found myself to be an expert on what was wrong with everyone just from hearing him talk about people. People that I had never known or met & many that I had known were almost completely tried, judged & condemned in my mind.

WHEN I CAME HERE I FOUND EVERYONE TO BE SO MUCH MORE POSITIVE in their attitudes & ways of thinking & talking about Family members. When someone would ask me my opinion about someone, I got so convicted when I realised that I had just really run that person down & I really had never met them or known anything about them other than what I had heard from being around Jus. I know that I can't blame it all on him‚ as every man has to stand alone before the Lord, but I wondered where I had learned to be that way, & I knew that Jus was very much that way.

I PERSONALLY FEEL THAT HE BELITTLES OTHER PEOPLE TO MAKE HIMSELF LOOK GREATER BEFORE OTHERS. When Dad got the verses about "covetousness," it seemed to fit so well with this attitude also, as I think he is covetous of other people's work for the Lord & the "position" their work gives them with you.

MAYBE IF HE CAN MAKE THEM ALL LOOK BAD ENOUGH, YOU'LL THINK THEY NEED AN OVERSEER, & who is better to do it than someone who "knows" them so well & all their problems. Well, he may really know them & their problems, but to bring them all out before others who don't need to know them is like character assassination.

I ALWAYS HAD A LOT OF TRIALS IN OUR HOME ABOUT HOW HE HANDLED THE CHILDREN, as I felt he was always yelling at them & trying to bring them into subjection through just plain fear instead of taking the time to reason & explain things to them & gain their love & respect. Maybe I'm too much of an idealist on this subject, but my heart would often ache at how he would yell threats at the children throughout the day.

AND SEEING AS HE WAS THE BOSS & MOST OF THE CHILDREN WERE HIS, I felt that I had to treat them as he did, & I too got to yelling & threatening them all day long. When it came to subjects like this, I would often come to think that maybe I was just wrong & he was really right & I'd better just do things his way by faith.

I HAVE BEEN VERY RELIEVED TO SEE HOW DAVIDITO IS HANDLED, & it is a far cry from how he handles his, & much closer to how I would have preferred to have had it. Sometimes I just want to cry when I think about how my own son has been raised, & how much better it all could have been "if I had only" been more in tune & had more convictions.

BUT PTL‚ ALL OUR CHILDREN HAVE A LOT MORE THAN ANY OTHER CHILDREN IN THE WORLD & I'm thankful for that. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I just feel that I as a parent have fallen quite short at times & can't help but think that it could have been better.

MUSIC IS ANOTHER SUBJECT WHICH I THINK NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED. I am a real music lover, so it took little encouragement for me to get into this. I knew from as far back as London that Jus had written a letter to you asking about music, & the result was the Letter "Musical Key."

I LEARNED LATER FROM JUS THAT THE LETTER "SEQUEL TO MUSICAL KEY" WAS ALSO WRITTEN TO HIM. He told me that it was sort of a mistake, as someone had given Dad an untrue report about some music he was listening to. Jus says it was nice classical music, & Stephen David reported it to be demonic music. So he feels he was kind of unjustly judged. It seems to me that because he didn't receive it but rather feels justified about it, he didn't learn anything from it.

ANYWAY‚ I FELT THAT SINCE HE HAD BEEN THROUGH SO MUCH ON THE SUBJECT‚ that surely he understood how Dad felt about music & that anything he listened to now must surely be okay now that it had all been cleared up in those Letters. He had lots of System music tapes then, & we began to accumulate lots more from the other Homes in the area. Rachel's Home—or at least where her children were—had a record player & lots of System records of all of our old favourites, & we soon had them make tapes for us.

SO BETWEEN THE TWO OF US WE SOON HAD A LARGE COLLECTION OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING. We tried to keep it on the mild side, as I guess we didn't have the faith to go into too much wild stuff, though some did slip in. I think that I got into it probably much more than he did, & I began to take it off the deep end & copy just about any music tape around, & I listened to them just about all day long‚ whenever I was working.

WHEN WE GOT TO TENERIFE I BEGAN TO LISTEN TO THE RADIO A LOT & was soon taping music from that too, & everybody liked it & soon the whole house was always listening to music tapes of one sort or another. Even Sally, who usually was listening to Word & MO tapes, soon began to get into it also. (Dad: How like the Devil to sidetrack her!—& all of you!)

AFTER BEING HERE FOR AWHILE I BEGAN TO REALISE WHAT A BAD EFFECT THOSE MUSIC TAPES HAD BEEN HAVING ON ME. After being so convicted about so many other things & seeing what a negative attitude I had compared to others here, I figured that I really needed the Word to help me get back onto a better track. I have since written a letter, or several, to Faithful explaining to her how I felt about listening to all that music & told her to just erase those tapes.

I FEEL THAT I'M THE ONE TO BLAME FOR MOST OF THE MUSIC THINGS, & hope that I have said enough to Faithful to maybe counteract it & the damage I've done. But all this to say, I don't know if Jus has changed his attitude about listening to System music tapes. While I've gone from one extreme to the other with it, I think he has kind of kept a steady pace with it & is still continuing with it.

AS FOR NORMAL FAMILY LIFE‚ IT'S NOT TERRIBLE, BUT MORE STRICT & SERIOUS & SOBER THAN LIFE AROUND HERE. He does run a tight ship & he is definitely the captain. There were often things I disagreed with, or times I would get upset with him or Sally, but I never dared say so, mostly for fear of his anger or causing discord & losing my job. He does continually encourage everyone to speak up & feel free, etc., but I don't think that I was the only one who was afraid to speak up or feel free to do or say things.

IT WAS THE TRIAL OF MY LIFE TO HAVE TO ASK FOR MONEY FOR A PERSONAL NEED. I would almost rather do without it than to have to go ask him for it. Maybe that was just me & my hang-ups, but I also feel that it was partly because that is just the way he is.

HE SAYS ONE THING, BUT CAN DISCOURAGE YOU FROM IT JUST BY THE WAY HE IS. I always felt much freer with Sally, & was never afraid to ask her for things if I needed them. But that was only when he was gone.

IT HAS BEEN SUCH A GREAT BLESSING FOR ME TO BE HERE & have contact with people like Peter & Sara. They really make me see the difference in what leaders can be like. I do love them both so much & have the greatest respect for them‚ but I have never yet felt that either of them thinks themselves superior to me or such leaders that they have to act different around me than they would by themselves.

I HAVE NEVER FELT AFRAID TO BE AROUND THEM OR GO TO THEM FOR COUNSEL OR ADVICE OR NEEDS. I speak of them because it is hard to describe what Jus is like, but it is easy to describe some of the qualities I see in them & didn't in Jus. Maybe it isn't wise to compare people that way‚ but it shows me the difference & helps me see what Jus is lacking, yet he pretends to have it or tries to. I guess it is a matter of respect too.

I HAVE ALWAYS FELT THAT EVERYONE HERE RESPECTED ME, NOT FOR MYSELF, BUT FOR THE WORK I HAVE TO DO (Dad: Amen!), & I respect them in return. But I certainly don't feel that same exchange of respect with Jus. I always feel & felt that he was expecting respect, but didn't want to return as much, but always needed to feel a bit above you.—Which always made you feel a bit below.

I THINK IT SHOWS UP IN A WAY BY THE WAY HE WANTED LOYALTIES TO RUN IN THE HOUSE. He said that our home should be run like Dad's, in that everyone's loyalty should be first of all to Dad & Maria & (Jus & Sally). Well, this is true & I agree with it here, but I wouldn't know how far I would want to take it in his situation.

HE WAS REFERRING ON THAT OCCASION TO WHEN FAITHFUL WAS NEW IN OUR HOME, & he said we had to keep our relationship in the right perspective. I think we did, though the loyalty on my part was more for the work's sake & out of duty, & I feel that hers was the same, as she never was very close to either Jus or Sally. Though I think things have changed a lot now & over the last year Faithful has gotten much closer to Sally.

I HAVE HEARD IT SAID THAT JUS OFTEN BLAMES OTHERS FOR THINGS THAT HAPPEN, & it is from hearing things like this that I go back over the things he has told me over the years, & I can see specific incidences which make me believe it. He has told me of several occasions in Tenerife when problems arose & things happened, such as the problem with Eman & Genesis, & they all seem to end the same.

HE SEEMS TO SAY THAT SO & SO DID SUCH & SUCH & REALLY BLEW IT‚ BUT "I" GOT IN TROUBLE FOR IT, & Dad & Maria got mad at me & now I'm in the dog house & have to redeem myself. It sounded like he was getting in trouble all the time for other people's mistakes or other people's reports on him which weren't exactly right. I guess it was like justifying yourself. I think it is hard for him to believe that he can be wrong.

ANOTHER SUBJECT WOULD BE DRINKING. In my own personal opinion, he drinks too much. Ever since I came to work with them in Portugal, I noticed he drank a lot. Having just come from the poor & strict Portuguese region of the pre-RNR days, I rather liked the liberty of getting to drink a little for a change, & I started drinking a bit myself. We had wine at every meal & it was just always there whenever you wanted it.

I THINK HE HAS LONG BEEN IN THE HABIT OF STARTING WINE BEFORE DINNER & carrying it on through till late after dinner. We not only had a lot of wine, but we were buying about one case of sherry a month, of which I drank little or none cause I didn't like it. I think Sally was a real sherry lover, though not much on wine. But it seemed Jus could really drink a lot. It didn't ever seem to affect him though, & maybe that's how he justifies it. We also got into buying a few bottles of brandy occasionally. (GHU!—Dad.)

IT SEEMED TO BE WINE BEFORE & DURING DINNER & LATER IN THE EVENING SHERRY, & LATER AT NIGHT THE BRANDY. The brandy really wasn't there too often. And there was even lots of beer. Lord help me, I was a real beer lover, & guess I still am. But after Dad's comments on beer appearing in the FN two times, I know that I am now without excuse, & guess I will just learn to refrain. (Dad: Amen! GBY!)

WELL, I DON'T KNOW WHAT ELSE MIGHT GIVE ANY LIGHT INTO WHAT HE IS LIKE from my experience. One thing that comes to me is just plain old joy of the Lord & having fun. That was something that often lacked around their home. Everything always seemed to be so geared to work & sober thinking. Most of it came from Jus‚ as Sally is usually a lot more happy & light & fun to be around.

THAT IS WHAT IS SO REFRESHING ABOUT BEING AROUND HERE, no one has images to uphold & we can all have fun together & laugh & enjoy things so much more. It's really great when we all get to laughing together, including Jus. He is even quite funny sometimes & fun when this happens. TTL for comic relief! (Dad: Amen!)

I'LL TRY TO GIVE YOU WHAT I THINK ABOUT SALLY NOW, concerning present & possible future circumstances. I have always felt that she was the more faithful & loyal one to Dad‚ & often seemed to be more in tune. I always thought that she was one of the hardest working people I had seen, & I really think her work for you was & is of more importance than anything else to her.

JUS OFTEN TOLD ME THAT THEIR RELATIONSHIP WAS KIND OF ONE–SIDED in that he (Jus) loved Sally, & Sally loved Dad. That is always the way it seemed to me too. I know that she loves her children very much, but I think that they are almost secondary to her when it comes to the Lord's Work. I feel that if she has changed any to be otherwise, it would be the influence of Jus that did it. She always seemed so happy & in love with Dad, & I pray that she still is. (Dad: Me too!—I think so.)

I DON'T THINK THAT IT WOULD BE THAT HARD ON HER TO BE WITHOUT JUS, if Dad & the Words were really her first love. But as for her children, that would be difficult for me to say. I personally think that she just might make it in a unit without them & would want to try it if asked.

I GUESS THAT THIS IS ALL FOR NOW. I feel like I've already said too much. In conclusion, I want to say that I try to love Jus, but I find it hard to relate to him. I feel very sorry for him, but I just don't know what to do. I can point out a lot of his faults, but I can't completely diagnose the whole situation, & I hope that's not my job. I'm really praying for the person whose job it is, though. (Dad: "A multitude of counsellors" & God!) So‚ I do love you all & am praying for you. Much‚ much love, Gene.

(DAD: THANKS!—ENOUGH!—JUST SORRY YOU DIDN'T SAY IT SOONER!—Why didn't you? "Failure to report a crime is a crime!" (See No.662.) GHU! GBY!—Sorry to bother you with this, but it's important!—One bad apple can spoil a whole barrelful!—He's gotta change or go! May God give us love & wisdom.—Love, D.)