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Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher

Reminiscent of an Old Testament prophet, Lonnie Frisbee was a young hippie seeker fully immersed in the counter culture when he experienced a dramatic encounter with God while on an acid trip out in the Tahquitz mountains. This event so transformed him that Lonnie immediately became an itinerant Christian evangelist, something of a John the Baptist of southern California who compelled thousands of fellow spiritual seekers to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

During the 1970s, Lonnie Frisbee became widely known as California's "hippie preacher," the quintessential "Jesus freak" whose pictures frequented such magazines as Time and Life magazines as the media told the story of a burgeoning "Jesus movement" throughout North America. Lonnie was part of one of the first Christian hippie outposts in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district before joining the fledgling Calvary Chapel church in Costa Mesa, California. Though he only stayed there for four years, from 1968 to 1971, Lonnie Frisbee was the charismatic sparkplug that launched the "little country church" into a worldwide ministry, and propelled some of its then fledgling leaders into some of the most powerful movers and shakers of the evangelical movement.

During the 1980s, Lonnie was at the center of the "signs and wonders" movement, one that focused on reviving the practice of spiritual power through divine healing, speaking in tongues and other demonstrative manners of manifesting the power of God. For four years, between 1980 and 1983, Lonnie's prowess in these areas helped launch the Association of Vineyard Churches as a prominent revitalization movement within the evangelical world.

Beside the dynamic influence that Frisbee had over the lives of countless individuals, and beyond the miraculous stories that swirl in the wake of his life, what makes the story most fascinating is that God called Lonnie Frisbee while he was deeply involved in the homosexual lifestyle in Laguna Beach, California. Because of this, however, his spiritual mentors were always skittish about involving him in their ministries even though they could not deny the influence and dramatic results that occurred whenever Lonnie was around. After his death in 1993 from AIDS, he was basically stricken from the written record of those ministries. At his funeral he was eulogized as the biblical character Samson, a man of great spiritual strength whose personal frailties ultimately got the best of him.

Frisbee tells the story of evangelist Lonnie Frisbee, offering insights from his friends and family, and complimented by rare and unseen archival pictures and film footage. The documentary tells the story of a simple man whom God empowered to fulfill a grand purpose, and who suffered the mistreatment of his spiritual overseers because of his honesty and his struggles. For anyone who has suffered the abuses of organized religion but still wants to hold on to faith, Lonnie Frisbee's life is a testament that God still finds favor among the regular everyday people.

[Original air date: Sun, Nov 19, 2006]

This program is not currently scheduled for broadcast.

Filmmaker Profiles:

David Di Sabatino

Read more about David Di Sabatino, filmmaker of Frisbee: The Life and Death of a Hippie Preacher.


Frisbee: Crew & Credits

A Bible story by David Di Sabatino

Edited by Ron Zauneker

Narrated by Jim Palosaari

Online Editor: Shirley Gutierrez

Recording Mixer:
Paul J. Zahnley, C.A.S.
Disher Music and Sound

Creative Consultant: Susan "Mooch" Minniti

Darrell Ballman
Connie Bremer-Murray
Rich Buhler
John Carreon
Tommy Coomes
Henry Cutrona
Ken Fish
Stan Frisbee
Bob Fulton
Chuck Girard
Kenn Gulliksen
Steve & Sandi Heefner
Neil Liebig
Phil & Sandi Mahlow
Bryan & Mercedes Marleaux
Joe Martinez
Judy Meston
David Owen
Duane Pederson
Debbie Kerner-Rettino
John Ruttkay
David Sloane Chuck Smith, Jr.
Steve Toth
Mel White
Ted Wise
Steve Zarit

Special thanks to KQED
Rachel Raney
Sue Ellen McCann
Elizabeth Pepin

And to the Bay Area Video Coalition

Pictures courtesy of
Jack Cheetham
The Frisbee family
Stephen "Bugs" Giglio
Kenn Gulliksen
Jim Johnson
Phil & Sandi Mahlow
Joe Martinez
Tony & Judy Meston
Marian Pack
Duane Pederson & HFP
Pam Rice
John & Clara Ruttkay

Archival Footage

"The Devout Young"
copyright 1970
courtesy of KQED San Francisco

"The Son Worshipers"
copyright 1971
courtesy of Bob Cording

"The Jesus People"
copyright 1972
courtesy of Pyramid Films

courtesy of Sarah Kernochan


"The King is Christ"
by Fred Caban/Agape
Renrut Records 1972
courtesy of Agape Communications

by All Saved Freak Band
Rock the World, 1981
courtesy of Joe Markko

"Heavenly Bliss"
by David Di Sabatino & Sam Ching
Brother Love Music. 2006

"Wouldn't It Be a Drag"
by Fred Caban / Agape
Renrut Records, 1972
courtesy of Agape Communications

"Samsonian Blues"
by David Di Sabatino & Sam Ching
Brother Love Music. 2006

"Rolling Papers, Risen Savior"
by David Di Sabatino & Sam Ching
Brother Love Music. 2006

"Change of Heart"
by Fred Caban / Agape
Renrut Records, 1972
courtesy of Agape Communications

"My Poor Generation"
by All Saved Freak Band
Rock the World, 1973
courtesy of Joe Markko

"Gentle Faith"
by Gentle Faith
courtesy of Tony Meston

"Magic Man"
by Stonewood Cross
courtesy of Hidden Vision Records

"Make It On Your Own"
by Joy
courtesy of David Burgin & Tony Meston

"Every One"
by Gentle Faith
courtesty of Tony Meston

by Afterfall
custom, 2004
courtesy of Darren Varieur

Copyright 2006 by Jester Media
All rights reserved.

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