The group of five were meeting in an old J W Hall. The building was very small, consisting of a small auditorium, two small rooms and one bathroom. There was enough parking out back to accommodate three cars. If you had to park on the street then you had to climb a set of steps up a steep bank. I am thinking 75 steps, which could be an issue in the winter time. So, our first order of business was to look for another meeting place.
We moved into a school building, bought a van and a school bus and bused children and sometimes their mothers to Sunday School. Later on we were able to rent an old bowling alley right in the middle of town. My dad and mom moved out for a season to help us remodel the alley into a church, complete with Sunday School rooms and an office. The mother-in-law also moved out and helped teach Sunday School. We knocked on doors, held bake sales, ran ads, wrote articles for the local paper, attracting a crowd of people. We even had graduates from Bible College spending a season with us knocking on doors and teaching classes. The church took off and was established. We had a rock band baptized and they provided the music for the congregation. We held revival meetings and street meetings, and became the center of attention for the town folk.
A former missionary from Venezuela held a revival meeting for us, with several people being baptized. I was leading the worship while he was baptizing a young couple at the baptismal tank. During the worship I had my hands raised and my eyes closed and right in the middle of worship, I experienced a vision from the Lord.
I saw myself in a tunnel. It was dark, long and narrow. I could feel both sides of the tunnel, but I could not feel the top. I was using my hands to feel my way along, while being mindful of placing my feet in front of me. I went along this way for some time, when I realized that I was seeing a pinpoint of light far into the distance. I kept my eyes focused on this light, while using my hands to make my way forward. After making some progress, I noticed that the pinpoint of light was growing larger as I came closer to it. I quickened my pace fascinated by this light. The light became brighter and larger so that I could see clearly the ground beneath me. I began to run toward the light. Then I slowed down as I realized that I could make out the end of the tunnel as well as understand that the light was coming from Jesus Christ as He floated in midair at the end of the tunnel.
It was glorious and mesmerizing while being full of love and peace. I was walking slowly now, with my eyes fixated on His radiance. He was receding away from the end of the tunnel and upward into the heavens. He was clothed in radiant white. The whiteness covered Him like a robe and the light radiated out from His whole being all around Him. His face was warm and His arms were outstretched toward me in invitation. I could not make out any features of His face or body because of the brightness of the light radiating from Him. The light was like a beam focused onto the tunnel entrance and illuminating my way.
I was so focused on Him that I did not realize that I had come to the end of the tunnel. I felt my foot hit space and I immediately pulled back from the tunnel’s edge, while looking down to see why my foot had not found any purchase. Below me was a modern city with many high-rise buildings and out of the city was a golden escalator ascending into the heavens. I followed the escalator with my eyes up to the heavens, and there was Christ at the top smiling down at me. I then realized that there were angels all the way up and down both sides. They were guiding and protecting the people on the escalator coming up out of the city into the heavens. I followed the escalator down to the city and then back up to Christ. When my eyes saw Jesus at the top, He vanished into the heavens and the escalator was gone too. I was back standing on the platform and the congregation was still singing and praising God.
I took this to mean that we were going to have great revival in this city, and shared the vision with the church. I now believe that it has greater significance.
During the seven years with this church, we had moved the location three times before we were able to purchase a former church building. I saw many miracles of healing and deliverance, as well as several demonic exorcisms. We, as a family, lived at three residences before we bought a house for the family. I worked at four different jobs over the course of five years, before I went full-time as pastor of this church for a salary of $50.00 per week.
The saints were full of love for the family and they made many sacrifices to help build the church. We became a tight-knit family in and out of church meetings. We would find sacks of groceries on our door steps with no note as to who they came from. We would find envelopes with money in our mailbox with no note as to who left it.
One time the taxes were due on the house, and we did not have the money to pay them. I went to the mail box and found a check from a former employer in the exact amount of the tax bill! They had given everyone a raise and had made it retroactive, including me! My taxes were paid by this retroactive raise!
My daughter T and son G were doing well with the love and attention of the church family. They had plenty of playmates at school and at church. We had many church picnics and such. Daughter T even helped with the bake sales. They both had their own bedrooms and both mom and dad were actively involved with their lives.
Our fourth residence here was in a brand new house built with the help of FHA. It was a small split foyer with a full unfinished basement, three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen/dining room combined, and one bathroom. It was built on a wooded lot and we made a semi-circle drive through the trees. We kept the school bus parked by the side of the driveway. Brother G would drive it on Sunday mornings to pick up the kids for class. There was a wooded lot behind the house and the kids and I would take walks together in the woods.
The regular school bus would pick daughter T up at the end of the driveway and drop her back off in the evenings. She was in the second grade at the time, and it was always a joy to see her get off the bus and run toward the house where I or her mother would be waiting for her. T was also very helpful with her younger brother as well as helping mommy in the kitchen. It was a good life.
It turns out that my number one daughter did not like the neighbor’s daughter, so one day she and her little brother sneak their plastic pool away from their back yard into the woods that ran behind our houses. They filled the pool with leaves, rocks and papers. Daughter T found a nail and punched a hole in the pool! Her very first act of vandalism at the tender age of nine or ten. T’s mom happened to be looking out of the kitchen window and saw them perform their dirty deed. She came out of the house after them very upset, with all kinds of threats. The lady next door came knocking on our door to lodge her complaint in a not too friendly manner. When I got home (T later informed me that) I calmly took both she and her brother and sat them on my knees, proceeding to give them one of my many little lectures about right and wrong. I then took them next door to apologize and paid for a new plastic pool.
Our neighborly relations after that incident were never the same. I’m sure they were happy when we moved away. My daughter has several other memories while at this residence and I will let her share those in her future blogs. It is interesting how each one remembers different things from living at the same address. It is fun sharing them together.
I would have the men of the church over to the house at 5 a.m. once per week for a men’s prayer meeting. We would read and pray for a full hour, before breaking up for everyone to go to work. It was a real sacrifice for these men to make time to do this each week. I am sure that these sacrifices paved the way for some miraculous events transpiring in the church.
I also would be awakened in the middle of the night from time to time with a nudge to pray. I would sleepily crawl out of bed, make my way to the living room, open my Bible and kneel at my easy chair. One time, as I was praying intensely around three a.m., I began to feel the presence of the Lord in a powerful way, and was pacing back and forth across the living room praying in a low voice so as not to awake the family. As I was praying I felt myself begin to cry tears for a certain man who was the father of one of my elders in the church. This elder’s father used to come to church years ago, but had been hurt and did not attend anymore. I had made many visits to his house making small talk with him and felt that he liked me, and I really was burdened for his soul. As I was crying and weeping asking God to send his angels and Holy Spirit to visit this man, I knelt at my chair and then slid down to the floor on my face. My prayer became very intense and after about an hour, I felt a release that God’s Spirit had been released into this man’s home.
There were many terms for praying like this. ‘Praying through’ ‘Breaking through’ ‘Kissing the carpet’ ‘Travailing before the Lord’ ‘Being burdened’. Paul actually speaks of these types of prayers in the book of Romans chapter 8, speaking of ‘groanings which can’t be uttered’. Paul also called these seasons of prayers, ‘Watchings’. Jesus taught us to ‘watch and pray’.
The next service, my elder comes to me telling me how upset his dad had been with him the previous night. I asked him to explain. He said that his dad had chewed him out this particular morning at breakfast, saying, “I never want to hear you praying like that ever again in my house. You woke me up from a sound sleep and I never did go back to sleep. Now I have to go to work all day without my full night’s rest. If I ever hear you praying like that again, I will kick you out of this house!” My elder told his dad that he was asleep and that he had not been praying during the night.
I then shared with my elder the burden and nudge I had from the Lord to pray for his dad at 3 a.m. for an hour. We both soon realized that this was the same night that his dad was awakened from his sleep hearing someone praying very intensely! And they say that prayer is meaningless, or that God is not real. They haven’t walked in my shoes, nor experienced what I have experienced, or they could not and would not say such things.