Obviously no one knows the future, but I wish I did. I had no idea what God was up to in our city, nor how much the devil and his allies would fight back. We felt powerless and under attack. We prayed and prayed knowing we could only watch what God would do and join Him. All I know is we were driven to share the gospel to the whole city.
Before we opened the Mustard Seed in March my thirst for God’s mercy to fall upon our city was great. I was so hungry I began to read many books at the same time about God’s power, answers to prayer and revival through history.
1-23-74 “…We found the book Shantung Revival got it from brother Ames.”
1-31-74 “…went to Bambi Lake for Baptist Men’s Retreat. The Spirit moved and men confessed (their sin) and openly asked for prayer… I put down Shantung Revival to read Revival Praying by Ravenhill.”
We were witnessing God moving in people’s hearts bringing repentance and obedience in many. Around this time Dennis Jones called me and told me there was something wrong with him because he could not stop reading the Bible. I assured him that it was a normal experience when God was at work, I had the same experience when I was converted and quickly read through the Bible like a baby starving for milk.
2-24-74 “…This morning preached on Mal 3:1 – I had a burden very much. Reading George Whitefield’s testimony. Coffee House still not started, newspaper delayed, posters delayed. Victory still not achieved…”
As I mentioned in the last installment Home Again And Ministry Begins we opened the Mustard Seed March 16, 1974 and pressed forward. Every step to reach our city only happened as God supernaturally opened doors.
Summer nights in 1974 at Pere Marquette beach were full of high school and young adults driving around and around Beach Street and filling up all the parking spots along the beach. The Lord gave us favor and the city allowed us to use the parking lot of the concession stand in the middle of the circle across from the entrance to the light house.
Dave Tueling is a chalk artist and had a van that he converted into an outreach vehicle equipped with a fold out stage, sound system and lights. We setup in the parking lot, cranked out Christian music, and drew a crowd. We all helped, took turns giving testimonies and Dave would finish with a gospel message using his chalk drawings.
The devil sent a local motorcycle gang who did not like us sharing the gospel to hinder us by pulling out our power chords or whatever they felt like doing. One night it was my turn to get on the little stage and share my testimony. Our light was aimed right in my face and I could not see anything. I finished my time and stepped off the stage and Dick grabbed me and told me a story that gave me goose bumps!
As I spoke, a couple of the gang members pushed through the crowd toward me. They said something about messing with me and Dick said he prayed and suddenly the guys appeared to have been slapped by an invisible hand. He saw their heads jerk, stop and look at each other, and turn and quickly exit where they came from. I was stunned and overwhelmed.
What a miracle! We were reaching people and our Lord protected me and intended on getting the GOOD NEWS to our city. We were not organized, did not have anything like follow up cards, nor first hand knowledge of who followed Jesus in our city wide outreach efforts. We preached the gospel, passed out tracts, sent letters to local churches hoping they would reignite their efforts to reach the city for Christ, and invited the youth to come to the Mustard Seed.
On another night I arrived but suddenly I was overwhelmed by a great burden and felt a great need to pray for the outreach. Dick and I left the group and went back to my van. I never had such an overwhelming experience with God. The Holy Spirit flooded my heart to pray. In fact it was so agonizing in my spirit I could only pour out my soul for the lost. It kept building until I could not verbalize my thoughts and found myself flat on my stomach and groaning for God’s help.
After some time it finally passed and I received a great peace inside. What was going on in people’s hearts, or what the enemy was threatening to do I do not know. But our God was battling for the lost around us and allowed me to join Him in intercession. What a privilege!
God was continuing His work! So we continued to gather for Bible study and prayer, we continued to have fellowship, and we continued to share the gospel.
At the end of the summer Cheryl left to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids for the fall semester and I greatly missed her. My father rehired me to work for him at Zephyr on Apple Avenue and by the spring of 1975 I would become the manager. God was beginning to provide for my soon to be family.
In spite of my personal struggles by October my long standing prayers for God’s supernatural power for preaching were answered. I wrote in my old journal…
11-14-74 “”Received by faith the anointing five weeks ago. Since then more brothers have been convicted of sin and moved than my whole year preaching. I have learned much from the Lord, but I am still a very young spiritual, sinful person. I have read much of D.L. Moody, R.A. Torrey, Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, Hudson Taylor, George Fox, Jonathan Goforth, Andrew Murray, Oswald J. Smith, and William Orr. We need revival so bad…”
By December Cheryl decided to quit school and come back at the end of the semester. We decided our wedding day to be May 10 and began planning our wedding. In my journal notes I wrote…
Dec 4: “began praying for no. 1, Dec 6 – friend of Cheryl’s mom said on phone – do you know anyone who wants a bedroom outfit really good buy, and good outfit. $100 – saved $300 – pick it up Sat. Dec 7.”
What was number one on my prayer list? Bed – chest of drawers – mirror – drawers and of course God stunned me with His constant care over us by quickly answering our simple prayers, and starting at the very top of my list. Also we were offered and bought #2 a kitchen table and chairs $10-15 and #3 a sofa for $15 the same day. The significance was the prices were near gifts. God proved He would supply our needs as we continued sacrificing ourselves for His kingdom.
As we entered 1975 we were still growing in faith and greatly drawn together in love for one another as a fellowship of saints. Our small band of Jesus Freaks had many trials and battles coming. I expected great victories but what we would face instead was a total death of our vision. We found satanic attacks like we never dreamed were possible, a complete collapse of our ministry, and confusion beyond our greatest fears.
NEXT: The Death of the Vision