A portrait of Victor Tasho Housteff and his wife, Florence, in the 1940s in Waco. After his death of heart failure in 1955, a month shy of his 70th birthday, he was interred at Rosemound Cemetery. Florence eventually sold Mount Carmel in the early 1960s and left Waco.

Courtesy of Through Our Pages museum

Believing that “the fullness of time has come,” members of the Davidian branch of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church will congregate in Waco this weekend to prepare for events which will culminate in the Second Coming of Christ and the setting up of His physical kingdom in Jerusalem.

The establishment of the kingdom will follow a war, beginning on or about April 22, beginning in the Middle East and pitting nation against nation and Christian against non-Christian, they believe.

Waco is world headquarters for the Davidians, whose membership is scattered all over the globe.

The war to begin about April 22 does not herald the end of the world, George W. Saether, a member of the Council, explains, but it will precede Christ’s reappearance on earth to set up His kingdom here.

“We do not know how soon after the 22nd the war will follow — it may even begin before then — or how long it will last,” he says. “But after that Christ will come.”

The hundreds of Davidians will come from all sections of the nation and perhaps from foreign nations. Members in Australia, who inquired of headquarters if they should come to Waco, were not advised to journey this far, Saether says.

They will live in tents on the 941 acres near Elk, where headquarters were moved a few years ago from the hills overlooking Lake Waco, or in homes, hotels, motels or wherever they desire.

Elk is about 12 miles east of Waco, located about two miles south of Highway 84 (Mexia highway).

Headquarters bears the same name, Mt. Carmel Center, as that used when it was in Northwest Waco, and includes the denomination’s offices, church and 16 houses, and farm land cultivated by resident members.

The members have been advised to “sever all earthly ties, if necessary,” and to sell property that could not be brought with them to Waco.

The Council is not asking that the money be given to the church, Saether emphasized. The people may do with it what they will, he says, but undoubtedly many of them will use it to assist those who are in need.

They may remain here until the Kingdom is set up.

The Davidians prophesy the sequence of events from passages in the Bible. “Pressure will be brought to bear to stop our work,” Saether says, ‘by governments, religious circles or others.” (He was not explicit on this point). Then will come the war, toward which events are already moving in the Middle East.

Final Events

The final events will be led by 144,000 Davidians (the Book of Revelation cites that number) who will first get into Palestine, then will go out and bring in the great multitude, those arrayed in white who came out of the great tribulation, spoken of in the same book.

“I expect one-third of the people will be saved,” he says.

The Davidians, who will arrive Thursday, will begin a series of meetings on Saturday—at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.—which will continue until the 22nd.

The announcement of the convocation reads:

“The General Association of Davidians Seventh-Day Adventists has issued a call to its adherents in North America to assemble this week at their world headquarters in Mt. Carmel Center, Waco, Texas. Officials of this organization state that the purpose of this gathering is to pray solemnly and earnestly for ultimate world peace and for the fulfillment of definite promises of God that will bring it about.

“This religious group declares that the reason for their action arises out of the snarled world conditions in which are seen men in captive nations who dare to rise against oppression, ruthlessly crushed while free men stand helplessly by, seemingly unable to come to their aid . . .

World’s Only Hope

“Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists are convinced that finite men of themselves are incapable of solving the world’s problems. They declare that the world’s only hope for ultimate peace is in the establishment of the Kingdom God promised in Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45 and many other scriptures.

“This group expects it to be set up soon in the Holy Land according to Ezekiel chapters 34 and 35 and Isaiah chapters 4 and 11 and many other scriptures. Afterward, they say, nations will join it as predicted in Micah 4:1, 2 and Isaiah 2;2-4.

“Testifying to their conviction that the fullness of time has come, many Davidian Adventists are severing all earthly ties, if necessary, in preparation for the approaching events that will result in the establishment of God’s Kingdom. These Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists are assembling in Waco in preparation for this Kingdom of Peace, as a symbol of the time when the Great Exodus spoken of in Isaiah 11:11-17 and Jeremiah 16:14, 15 shall commence.

“They believe this exodus will commence shortly after the predicted war of Zechariah 14 breaks out in the Middle East.

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part 2 appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.

Federal officials left the compound site in late May 1993. As identifications of bodies continued, questions about the survivors, the compound and the cult itself began to emerge.

As the world began to take a critical look back at the events and legal proceedings continue, the ATF's bombshell report forces a shakeup at the top after the raid gone "tragically wrong."

In 1994, the surviving Davidians went on trial in San Antonio. Over six weeks, more than 140 witnesses testified, with the verdict coming just two days prior to the anniversary of the ATF raid.

The Rodenville shootout and the 1988 trial, the end of the world in 1959 and more stories from deep in the Trib archives.