Long-time MSIA minister and initiate, Joyce Evans, was introduced to John-Roger and MSIA in the early days of the Movement. This interview is part of a project to compile stories from elders in MSIA.
Did you have a spiritual or religious focus prior to MSIA? What was that like and how did it evolve?
I was raised Presbyterian and was expected to go to Sunday school and church every Sunday. The only joy I experienced was that it was a social time for me. Church, itself, was boring. Once I went away to college, I never went to church unless it was with my family. Rarely do I find inspiration in a traditional church service.
What year did you first become involved in the Teachings? What was going on in the world and your life at the time?
It was 1979 that I first heard about John-Roger. I started Discourses in February 1980. At that time in my life, I was not particularly aware of what was going on in the world. I was living an exciting life in Aspen, Colorado. I was in a relationship that was not particularly satisfying to me and my work was not stable. I felt very unsettled inside.
How were you introduced to the Teachings?
A woman at the gym where I worked out kept talking to me about Discourses. She was a single mom who seemed to live on the edge. I had an attraction to her energy but paying $100 for Discourses was out of the question. I was barely hanging on in my own life. I did manage to come up with the money to do Insight and it was through Insight that I got into the Movement. My heart opened in a way that I had not expected. I wanted to take a PTS class called “The Traveler in your Dreams.” I couldn’t resist and found the money to get on Discourses. I never looked back.
What was it about the Teaching that attracted you?
In those days, Discourses were mailed out monthly. I saw right away that whatever Discourse I was reading manifested in my life. I couldn’t wait for my Discourse to see what kind of experience I was going to have. I loved the loving. I loved the mystery of it all and I loved the little MSIA community in Aspen.
Are there any MSIA principles or concepts that particularly stand out for you or that have helped guide you through life? Such as: Not one soul will be lost; Check it out for yourself, have your own experience; Take care of yourself so you can help take care of others; Love it all; etc.
The principle that most supported me is to LOVE IT ALL. As I encounter a challenge, moving into loving it gives me a spiritual perspective. I see through the eyes of Christ and I more easily accept and cooperate with what is going on. In later years, taking care of myself has come to the forefront. I notice it helps me be more patient and compassionate especially to myself. When my mother was elderly and my husband had a progressive neurological disease, I made sure I kept my life balanced so that I could give from the over flow.
How do you work with the teaching in your everyday life and what value do you get from them?
I notice acceptance is an important key for me. My life certainly has its ups and downs and unpredictability. The more I can surrender and accept that I am clearing some karma, the easier it is for me to see the blessings that are coming forward. Long ago I made the decision that this was going to be my last life time. I have complete intention to work Soul Transcendence and that means I look for the good and the divine in all situations and people and leave the rest to God.
Pick one spiritual resource you use regularly and talk about the value you get from it, for example: Discourses , Spiritual Exercises, Seminars, Seeding, Tithing, Prayer List, Services, etc.
I use all of them but for me, reading Discourses help me the most. I like to read something every night before going to sleep. I have certainly had the experience of reading something profound and then never being able to find that passage again. I also have SAT’s on my iPod and I listen to them nearly every night as I am typically not a very good sleeper. I can drift off to sleep or hear exactly what I need to hear that night. The Discourses give me direction and offer me solace. I am also a faithful tither. I find that I have learned to trust the Lord with all of my heart when I send my check in to MSIA.
Why did you get initiated / ordained and what has it meant to you?
When I heard about Discourses and sent away for them, I was told to “write the letter to J-R about initiation.” I didn’t know I had a choice. I thought that writing for initiation went along with getting Discourses. I was attracted to the idea of initiation, but didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t know what I was getting into other than I was deeply attracted to it. It was all magical and mysterious to me and I loved it. It took me a while to decide to get ordained. I didn’t think I was spiritual enough to get ordained. I thought I had to have some grand ministry in order to get ordained. But then, what I kept thinking about was marrying couples. I kept seeing myself officiating weddings. It just seemed so sacred to me. I also had the thought that every couple would always remember me as the one to perform their ceremony. I don’t know if that is true or not, but that’s what I thought about. Within six months of getting ordained, sure enough I started officiating weddings. It wasn’t something I pursued, but that came to me. I still love working with couples, writing ceremonies and officiating weddings.
What is the driving force behind your continued involvement in MSIA?
I just love J-R and the Teachings. I love that sacred feeling I get when I listen to a SAT (Soul Awareness Teaching), read a Discourse, do my S.E’s (Spiritual Exercises) and avail myself of events such as the Living in Grace Retreat. I believe that it’s my deep desire to go home to God in this lifetime that truly keeps me engaged. The Teachings are very alive in me. I see what happens when I send the Light to someone or a situation. I see how the Light touches people in the most magnificent ways.
Can you talk about a situation in your life that you felt the Teachings helped resolve?
A few years ago I was deeply challenged. My husband made a poor business decision and we were faced with huge legal bills, a collapsing economy, losing our business and John going to prison for a couple of months. I had no idea how I was going to pay our mortgage and manage our living expenses, never mind my embarrassment about my husband going to jail. I had to completely surrender and accept our situation and trust in the Lord. I found strength in the Teachings. Individuals in the MSIA community came forward with such loving compassion and money. Enough money was given to me/us that I was able to manage what I needed to handle. I realized that a deeper prayer was being answered in that I could handle whatever I needed to handle in the world. Growing up, I was afraid of the world. I have faced everything I never wanted to face and have survived and spiritually thrived. All challenges are actually prayers being answered.
Have you experienced miracles, unexpected blessings or phenomenon that you would like to share?
Yes. I have had out of body experiences. What J-R talks about in Discourses and on SATs is true. One thing I will share happened a couple of years ago. We had moved from Philadelphia to a small town in south east Arizona. We bought a fixer-upper house. It was a karma mill. If something could go wrong it went wrong. I remember that we had just learned we needed to replace the roof. We hadn’t budgeted for a new roof and it was quite expensive for us. We were upset and supremely bummed. I went over to the house to do some painting. I put on my iPod and the first thing I hear is J-R saying “If you have to replace the roof, REPLACE THE ROOF! Do what you have to do and move on!” I stopped everything and started laughing. I told John about it and we happily replaced the roof. It was a good thing too because the monsoon season that summer was record breaking rains.
How would you describe the MSIA community and its value to you?
I have leaned heavily on the MSIA community over the years. My best friends are my spiritual family in MSIA. From the Philadelphia community I learned what it means to be a minister and to be of service. I still lean on my community in Philadelphia as there are no close ministers in this part of Arizona. Despite not having any MSIA people close by, I feel that we are all one and that I don’t go through life alone. I am grateful my husband was an MSIA minister and we could lean on each other. We gave each other prayer communion, tithed and seeded together. It was so nice that we could do our S.E’s together as well.
Did you ever meet J-R physically? What was your impression and how did it change if any?
Yes, I have met J-R on several occasions. I never had the personality to be able to penetrate his entourage, though. I never had a personal sharing with him either, although all of my questions got answered. The last time I saw J-R physically was at a book signing the summer of 2012, I believe. My husband did a sharing and it seemed that J-R was particularly harsh with him. Afterward, J-R went out of his way to give me a very long and sweet hug. I never had him hug me before. Later, I realized he knew what was going to happen to us and I believe it was his way of reassuring me that he was with me all the way. We had some tough karma to walk through.
Can you share something about John Morton?
I have a deep respect and admiration for John Morton. He has some mighty big shoes to fill and he is doing it beautifully and in his own way. What strikes me the most about John Morton is his ordinariness. He’s ordinary. I’m ordinary. His greatest contribution to me to date is the knowing that it’s all God. So I might as well relax and enjoy the ride.
Anything else you want to share about your involvement in MSIA?
MSIA is the single most important thing in my life. I am deeply grateful I found the traveler (or he found me) when I was as young as I was. Most of my life I have had the blessing of working with the Traveler and the Teachings. How lucky am I?
My beloved husband, John Jurkofsky, and my mother have passed. I am currently enjoying my life in Arizona with my two cats, Alister and Rumi. I am also blessed with a new relationship that is truly a gift from Spirit. I am truly experiencing that I am One with the Divine.