I was a pastor of small home mission churches for many years, then I was a missionary to a small East African country. I was privileged to see many souls saved, and some miraculous interventions by the hand of God.
I saw so much poverty in the five African countries I ministered in. It was heartbreaking to see the suffering of so many millions of souls. It left a lasting impression on me as to how many blessings we take for granted in the United States, after watching women walk miles carrying bundles of firewood or tin cans of water on their heads.
I have struggled with the burnout from those years ever since. There were no recovery centers for ministers in those days. You recovered on your own: most didn’t even recognize burnout for ministers.
Today denominations are trying to implement programs to help missionaries to re-acclimate to American culture after being away for years in a foreign culture and to have access to rest, counseling, and support to deal with the physical, mental and emotional burnout, missionaries around the world suffer.
Statistics say that as many as 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month. Almost 40% will divorce their spouse. 80% feel unqualified for the ministry. 50% suffer severe discouragement after leaving the ministry as they have no training for secular jobs.
The Lord appeared to me in two different visions during the early years of my ministry. In one vision I was alone in an army barracks wrestling with an invisible being on an army cot. I almost fell off the cot onto the floor as we rolled from side to side. When I rolled to my left and was hanging from the cot I saw the Lord float through a set of doors that swung inward. He didn’t walk in, He floated in, right past my head; causing me to turn my head while leaning over the cot to see where He went. As soon as I turned my head to look for Him, He floated back past me and out the doors. There was this bright light filling the room and radiating from His face and His white clothing. His hands were outstretched in front of Him and He was smiling at me with total love. Then He spoke the words of Joshua 1:9 to me. “Be strong and of good courage. Neither be afraid or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
The second time He appeared to me He showed me that I was in a long dark narrow tunnel. I couldn’t see anything and had to use my hands to feel the cold damp walls of the tunnel on both sides to navigate my way. My feet would stumble and I would almost fall, but my hands on the walls supported me. I kept making my way through this tunnel until finally, I saw a pinpoint of light way up ahead of me. I kept my eyes on this light as I kept inching my way towards it. The closer I got to the light, the larger in diameter the light became until it was very bright and filling the entrance at the end of the tunnel. Then I realized that this light was coming from Christ Himself. I was so surprised and engrossed with His glory that when I got to the end of the tunnel I almost stepped into space. There was no ground at the end of the tunnel. I felt myself starting to fall forward, so I took my eyes off of Christ who was floating upward into the white clouds and blue sky. I looked down to see why I almost fell. Below me was a big city with modern skyscrapers and there was a bright glow over the whole city. Then I realized that there were thousands of souls riding this golden escalator out of the city up into heaven. When I followed them, I saw Jesus waiting for them at the top of this golden escalator. I looked at Him as He was smiling at me, and then smiling at all these souls ascending to Him. I followed the escalator back down to the city and that is when I realized that there were many angels on both sides of the escalator. On one side, the angels were floating down toward the city; and on the other side, they were floating upward from the city to Christ. Then it was over. I was back on the platform leading the congregation in worship.
A few years before I left the United States for Africa I was prayed over at a certain minister’s meeting and heard the minister friend say these words: “Lord, show him what he needs to suffer for you.” He went to pray for others then came back to me to pray a second time saying, “Lord, make him willing to suffer for you.” I cornered him after the meeting, asking him what he meant by those prayers. He told me that he didn’t know what they meant only that he saw a dark cloud over my head when he prayed for me. Those words were not very encouraging to hear and brought a level of anxiety to my heart and mind. In Africa, I was prayed over by a visiting American minister in my living room. He said that God showed him on the plane in a dream that there was a snake in the grass that would raise its head from time to time above the grass then hide again. He also saw a man with manacles on his legs that someone or something had put on him. He said I was this man with the manacles, but he was unsure what the snake was in the grass. The snake turned out to be a national minister who was practicing Witchcraft. He tried to bring a cursed root into my house, but God spoke to me and told me not to allow him in. Later another minister shared with me how this man had bragged to him about trying to curse me. “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)
I was on my back with Malaria for eight weeks. I saw my wife suffer from an insulin reaction, needing an African hospital. I saw my daughter injure her leg, which refused to heal properly. She wears the scar tissue to this day. I saw my oldest son miraculously protected from a nest of 50,000 African bees, while they attacked and killed one of our dogs. I saw my youngest son miraculously delivered from death’s door after drinking some poisonous Amway product. God protected us from Mamba snakes, a leopard and a gang of twelve thieves. I was threatened with an African prison and never seeing my family, or America, again.
In the midst of all these things, I saw God save, heal and deliver thousands upon thousands of Africans. Churches were established throughout the country, and a Bible School and Headquarters was established for the training of Nationals and leaders of the future organization. Today the reports still come in that the mission work is growing and strong. The National leaders have taken over from the missionaries and it is now truly a national work.
I brought all of these experiences back to the States with me and went into a tailspin; as I tried to sort out what I had been taught, compared to what I had personally experienced.
I was under a cloud of confusion that would not leave me alone. I still struggle with doubts and I have many questions for God when He decides to call me to His side.
One of the best books I have read, that surpasses denominational labels and man-made doctrines, is written by a medical doctor. He lost his faith over the brutal death of his cousins and loved ones. Christ appeared to him in a dream and showed him his cousins and loved ones in heaven with Him. They were healthy, in their thirties, and without any bullet wounds. Dr. Reggie Anderson has been gifted to feel the souls of his dying patients being escorted to heaven by angels. He also experienced the feeling when a soul is escorted to hell by demons. I encourage you to read it if you are also confused over church labels. (“Appointments with HEAVEN” by Dr. Reggie Anderson published by Tyndale House Publishers)
You can learn more about me on ‘My Spiritual Journey’ pages and ‘The Mission Years’pages. I trust that you will benefit spiritually from reading my posts; and invite you to join me in learning and growing closer and closer to the Lord, as His coming is fast approaching.
Feel free to comment on my posts or to contact me with any questions. You may subscribe and receive notification of new posts; and follow along with me as we learn about the Truths of God’s Word, one post at a time. May His blessings for your spirit, soul, and body be yours; until He changes us all into His likeness at His soon coming. In Jesus Name. Amen.