PART TWO – Pentecost to Israel (cont.)
For the remainder of our stay in New Jersey, we listened to sermons by George Verwer, Paul Troper, and others. We stayed in a large mansion owned by a bachelor, Bill Okkema, who owned a building materials outlet (Mowerson’s, I believe). He had a fellow staying with him, a Hispanic named Juan.
Bill was a member of the large church hosting the OM gathering. While we had some interesting talks on spiritual matters, it seemed Bill was merely doing his “Christian duty” by housing and feeding us, which was fine, but he seemed quite disinterested in the things of God, which I found disappointing.
We had a meal at his mother’s one day. She also seemed disinterested.
The Scriptures declare:
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2 HNV).
We met him in New Jersey. I think his name was Morley (perhaps Murray), and I believe he had a New York accent. He was one of those who didn’t fit in – quiet and unobtrusive, even apparently shy. He was not unkempt, but neither was he well dressed.
I recall his questioning something some of us were discussing. He was one of those that could agitate one, poking at the validity of what was said. Though he seemed provocative, he didn’t speak or question with strife or contention. I wish I could remember what was discussed. I believe it was about free will and God’s sovereignty, but I’m not sure. I do recall realizing I had much more to learn.
On rare occasions, someone steps into your life and impacts it in a matter of moments in a way that others, who may have lived with you for years, don’t. I think he was an angel sent to correct me, but with a New York accent? 🙂
Though we were slightly short the stipulated amount of money, OM accepted us, and we were off to Brussels, Belgium. We had heard that OM was against the doctrine and reality of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, but we were led to go with them, anyway. That summer would prove to be very educational spiritually. We would be exposed to many people, churches, denominations, doctrines, and practices. The Lord would be showing us that the formal churches are all very much the same, if not in doctrine, at least in general form and spirit.
Landing in Brussels, about a thousand of us from many countries were gathered for a few days’ conference in a huge vacated Catholic seminary, the base for OM’s operations that summer. From there we would be dispersed as evangelistic teams to various European countries.
The dark, gloomy halls in that building seemed two blocks long, or more. It was well built, as is common in Europe (contrasted to much of America’s construction). It had a large garden or park in the center of it, and behind.
We slept in large vacant rooms (formerly private offices or bedrooms) on clay-tiled cement floors. Corrugated cardboard used for padding became a precious commodity. The fare was poor – processed, much of it donated, I expect, not an organic or godly diet – but we didn’t go hungry.
Three days were spent listening to George Verwer and other speakers, learning the operations and our general duties. Teams of four would be formed to take to the streets, preaching, witnessing, and distributing nominal Christian books for donations; the proceeds would serve to finance OM in these operations.
Here happened one of the more humbling moments of my life. Marilyn and I decided to see a bit of Brussels. We went for a walk, and when we returned to the conference center, I was surprised to have a fellow, Hans, stop us at the door, asking for ID. Why I resisted him, I don’t know (pride, I believe), but I reacted, as if to say, “Why should you question us?” Yet, it was his duty; he didn’t know us, and obviously, they didn’t want strangers entering.
Hans didn’t react. He was polite and patient, even respectful, but stood his ground. I was ignorantly testy, though not nasty, with him. I finally gave him our identification.
He then took his second step in putting me to shame. He invited Marilyn and me to the kitchen for hot chocolate (it turned out he was the chief cook). We accepted, and he treated us as friends and guests. He was entirely charitable, and because he was so, I was humbled to tears and moved to apologize. He accepted and graciously brushed the incident off as negligible. I have been moved by his reaction to my attitude and conduct to this day.
It was another one of those brief encounters with great impact. Hans, God bless you, wherever you are. He blessed me by you.
The power of that incident has often made me wonder about myself, even now as I write, decades later. The Lord has greatly blessed and kept me, spoken to me of many things, undeniably used me to speak to many, as you shall see, yet I rarely exhibit the same kind of spirit Hans did that day. His humility, gentleness, and patience were so powerful, far more so than the testy and disagreeable reaction I gave him. I am often ready to do battle or correct someone, yet I seem to be the one in great need of correction.
I would want to have the same impact on others that Hans had on me, seeing that his way gets the desired results (at least with me). While I would prefer his attitude, and have had it on occasion, I don’t have it often. Rarely do I detect people ashamed of themselves before me for their wrongs. On the contrary, I usually get reactions like, “Judge not!”
Yet I find that I am what I am, and it seems this is the way it must be. I would like to be nice, I really would, but find that being real is preferable, nice or not.
Am I excusing myself? Do I fall short of a certain required behavior before God in His economy of things for every person and occasion? That may well be, but I know this: He rules over the spirits of men, Hans’ and every other spirit, mine included.
[The editor, Sara Schmidt, in working on this paper, was moved to write the following, as she red this particle:
Victor, I know you know this, but perhaps a reminder is helpful…. You impacted my life in a far greater way than Hans impacted yours. He was still part of the church system, conducting himself with love and compassion as they are often taught to do (and usually failing when confronted with the truth). You, on the other hand, spoke out forthrightly, sharing truths that have delivered me from the whore, both externally and internally. What else can I say??? You have been required by Him to speak hard words, and as a result, His work has wrought great deliverance for me and others.]
We prayed for a fellow, Hiob (he may have been a Filipino), to receive the Spirit. He rejoiced, but we didn’t have occasion to get together with him again that I recall.
Likely the hard tile floors had something to do with this event, along with my injured neck that would often pain and depress me, especially if I didn’t lie down just so. One morning, I awoke particularly grumpy, and Marilyn suffered the brunt of it, as had been the case many times. I was so hard on her, I broke down crying, feeling so wretched that I should be that way, especially as a Christian.
I had tried so hard to correct myself, to no avail. I would apologize, we would pray, yet nothing would change. How many times in the past I apologized to her for this and other offenses, I don’t know, but as I apologized this time, we prayed and I tearfully cried out to the Lord in brokenness and desperation to deliver me of this horrible problem. He would answer – in about a year.
Our first assignment was in Korneuburg, Austria, where we had to learn some German quickly. The team leader, Klaus, determined that we would head out into the streets and spread the word that we would be having Bible study. I, however, believed in letting the Lord bring the people. We had a debate on our hands, but as it turned out, Klaus did some street preaching, we prayed, making request to the Lord to bring people, He brought them (not only some of those to whom Klaus preached), and Klaus was somewhat impressed that such a thing should happen.
We were dependent upon God for our needs, particularly food. We considered ourselves fortunate when there was a fruit tree available, or when the administrator at the volunteered facility where we stayed decided to provide us with some groceries. In Korneuburg, we had some funds to occasionally go to the bakery and pick up a fresh round loaf of substantial Austrian Rye bread, about three or four kilos in weight, for our team.
We fared well compared to other teams. In France, for example, some had to survive on limited supplies of white French bread alone, for up to two weeks. We saw them in Brussels later, appearing sickly and sluggish, sadly reporting their experience.
To our Bible study came a young Catholic fellow and his sister (Wolfgang and Christina). I was sharing with them the example that God is the Tree and we are the branches. “How can branches,” I rhetorically asked, “live without the tree? We need the Tree.”
Christina replied, “True, but then, as a tree cannot live without branches, so God needs us, too!” It had never occurred to me that Almighty God might need us. After all, why are we here?
Isn’t it wonderful when we who presume to be teachers or authorities can learn from anyone, like I did from that young Catholic lady? How wonderful the peace and rest of not feeling compelled to be the ones knowing it all!
Having completed our time in Korneuburg, we spent a night in Vienna and enjoyed more food than had come our way at the Austrian OM office. We met Walter and Gertrude (Gertrude was with OM) who lived in Vienna. They treated us to a Viennese tour, dinner, and classical music on piano and violin at their apartment. Walter was studying medicine. Gertrude had resisted the truth of receiving the Spirit, but she hadn’t been offended. They went out of their way to befriend us.
I have to say that those who treated us well in spite of our differences had the greater impact on me. It just isn’t the same as being treated in a friendly way by one who is in agreement or stands to gain something from you. Loving your enemies has a greater payback, at times and in various ways, than loving your friends does.
After our night in Vienna, we headed back to Brussels in one of the many old Volkswagen buses, which were limited to 80 kilometers per hour anywhere, including the speedy freeways like the Autobahn where vehicles passed us as though we were at a pit stop changing tires.
I believe it was at this time, in Brussels, or perhaps a bit later, that we received a disturbing letter from Canada, saying that my brother David had been admitted to the hospital with acute leukemia. I was greatly saddened, wondering what had happened in the prayer we had with him, wherein he was cleansed.
We asked the Lord if we should cut our time with OM short. He said to remain for the term scheduled. We planned to see David when we returned to Canada. Would he still be alive? God assured us he would be, and that there was no need to rush or panic.
We were slated to leave Brussels for France when there came a request for a married couple to chaperone elsewhere. There were very few married couples; almost all were young single students. When we presented ourselves to answer the call of duty, we found out the need was in England.
We accepted, drove through France, and were off by hovercraft to England, then to Manchester via London. One part of the tongues and interpretation message that Marilyn received in Prince Albert that March had now come to pass.
Who says there is no God?
How can professing Christians argue against the validity of the gifts of the Spirit for this day? But they can, and do. Who but God can do these things? Yet they attribute power and, in effect, worship to Satan, as though he is sovereign over all.
There was still another portion of the message given Marilyn that had yet to be fulfilled.
The OM office and residence in Manchester was in a vacated industrial building, converted to a tenement. Our bedroom was about eight feet away from the tracks of a train that passed through regularly, day and night.
There we met some interesting people. One was Heinrich Schneider, from Germany, a zealous believer. He had also been baptized in the Holy Spirit, and was constantly exclaiming, with a German accent, “Praise the Lord!” Even early in the morning, at breakfast, he would come to the table and loudly proclaim, “Praise the Lord!” One young OM worker grumbled that if he did it again, he would stuff something down his throat. I was reminded of the proverb:
“He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him” (Proverbs 27:14 MKJV).
Not all were as joyous and enthusiastic about the Lord as Heinrich. I’m sorry we lost touch with him. We had some good talks.
The director of the Manchester OM office, while praising George Verwer for “walking the talk,” told us a story he thought was quite humorous. George was on a bus, passing out Christian tracts. A passenger asked him if he had received the Spirit. (The idea was possibly to suggest that those who are led by God don’t indulge in various common religious activities such as handing out tracts, unless directed by the Spirit.)
George immediately asked him a question in turn: “Have you received the Spirit?”
The man replied, “Yes, I have.”
George replied, handing him the tracts, “Then you hand them out!”
After relating the story, the director and some people laughed, but not us. It became awkward when he perceived that some of us weren’t amused. We knew he didn’t understand, but we also knew that he wasn’t ready to receive more truth, either.
In Manchester, we met Steven Hawkins, who was on staff with OM. He took us for a little tour, most of which I don’t recall, but one thing I remember is the graveyard that went back so many centuries. It had worn tombstones with the names of people who had died in the dreaded medieval plagues. The sites testifying to times so long ago in English and European history impressed us. In Western Canada, our home turf, manmade landmarks were no older than two centuries, at most.
We talked to Steven about receiving the Spirit. We weren’t led to pray that he would receive, but we would hear more of him in the future. Years later we discovered that he came to live in Edmonton, Alberta. It turned out that we were living in the same province, about three hundred miles away.
Having completed our time in Manchester, we headed to London and from there to Ipswich, where we joined others to form a new team. Now the Lord would be revealing some things to us to confirm our footsteps in Him and the things He was teaching us. The Lord would be showing me how my struggles in seeking to understand the essence and realities of repentance, the new birth or the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and other matters were not just my doing, but His. We would also meet some friends in Christ with whom to share.
Learning God’s doctrine rather than man’s brought us into conflict with most nominal Christians, and especially with those who appeared to be the greater among them. The Lord had taught me that the new birth is the baptism in the Spirit, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the new birth. While Baptists and others will agree with that statement, they are mistaken in the experience. Repentance is one thing, as real, wonderful, and necessary as it is, but the new birth is quite another experience. Baptists think repentance is the new birth, which is simply not true.
I daresay that most evangelicals have experienced neither repentance nor the new birth. For those who have experienced repentance, they are taught that they are now born again, that is, they have received the Spirit, yet without receiving the gifts. Not having the gifts, they are told that the gifts were only for the early Church and are no longer necessary or valid. But the Lord taught us that the new birth is the receiving of the Spirit, and with the new birth come the gifts.
When speaking of receiving the Spirit and the gifts, like prophecy, tongues, interpretations of tongues, visions, dreams, revelation, healing, discerning of spirits, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, rejoicing, praise, thanksgiving, and the lifting up of hands unto the Lord, people would immediately put forth Billy Graham as proof that I was in error, seeing he never spoke of, or attested to, these things.
They would come to me and say, “Victor, how can these things be of God? What about Billy Graham? He doesn’t say ‘Praise the Lord,’ lift his hands up to the Lord in public, lay hands on people to pray for healing, prophesy, or speak in tongues, but look at what a godly man he is! Has he not won many thousands of souls to Christ? With all that power and godliness, how can you say that he doesn’t have the Spirit? Are you saying Billy Graham isn’t born again?!”
How amazing it is that if people have a choice between believing what the Bible (God) has to say about the Spirit and the gifts, and what Billy Graham has to say about the things of God, the vast majority of nominal Christendom will believe Billy Graham!
Here is a man who claims to believe the Bible, yet denies that which is in the Bible as applicable to us in our day. Yet everywhere in the Scriptures, we read of the Spirit of God and the gifts. In fact, the whole Bible is the Substance, the very Essence, of the Spirit of Christ and His gifts to man.
I had to take that oft-repeated question, “What about Billy Graham?” to the Lord. It was one of the first and most pressing questions to be answered after receiving the Spirit.
Beginning in Ipswich, the Lord verified what He had revealed to me of Billy Graham – his spiritual state and ministry – thereby also confirming the sound doctrine we were receiving.
On the first night in Ipswich, we arrived at Zoar Baptist Church, the building in which we would be lodged. For bathing, some congregants volunteered their homes. Marilyn and I were guests in a home where a lady soon forced a magazine on me to read while I was waiting for my turn to use the bathroom.
This was an unusual occurrence. The lady didn’t tell me what she wanted me to read, though I asked her. She didn’t even seem to know what she was doing, because I asked her why she was giving me the magazine, and she gave no reason. “Just read it,” she said.
Having no desire whatsoever for it, I declined twice, but she insisted. I relented, opened it up, and as I leafed through it, I found a small article of an interview with Billy Graham.
There was no reason to believe she was trying to tell me something about Billy Graham. The article was quite small and insignificant, buried among many larger ones, but to me it was exciting. Right there, I found that Graham was declaring the gifts of the Holy Spirit were not for today and that those gifts that were being manifested were not of God. I had my answer from the Lord! I realized that anyone who would deny or condemn the Spirit and His work and gifts was not of God. He was erring against the Spirit.
I knew the gifts were true and for today. Were we not in England months after Marilyn prayed in tongues, asked for interpretation, and heard that we would be going to England? At the time of the tongues and interpretation, we had no idea we would be going anywhere, much less to England. Then along came Sally Hogg who said, “Why don’t I give you this OM money and you go, seeing you are free to go?”
Originally we went to Belgium, and from there to Austria, then it came about that they needed married couples for chaperones in England, so off to England we went, and thus were the tongues and interpretation fulfilled. As we sat in that lady’s living room in England, we knew God had brought us there.
Who says there is no God?
Here we were in England to work with Operation Mobilization, the founder of which was George Verwer. And George was, we are told… a Billy Graham “crusade” convert. Once personally acquainted with OM, we discovered that they also stood against, and not only stood against, but mocked and scoffed at, the gifts of the Spirit. The Lord was tying loose ends together for us.
George was also a man of works. He took great pride in wearing rags for clothes, displaying his commitment to evangelization and piety. He worked very hard, and had his people work hard, but it was all works of the flesh, not of the Spirit. George had no use for the Spirit. (To this day in 2011, he hasn’t changed.)
We discovered that the books they were selling on the street were anti-Christ and anti-Scriptural. Though these books were very common and popular among evangelicals, not so among those who had truly received the Spirit of God.
George is, in effect, “twofold the child of Hell” Billy Graham, the great proselytizer, is. Many nominal Christians think of children of Hell as being dark, nasty souls, but it is not necessarily, or even usually, so. Children of Hell are commonly, if not predominantly, smiling, friendly, “Bible-believing,” devout, “evangelical” (proselytizers don’t win people by being negative), sincere (according to today’s concept), “Christ-like,” and often quite popular people.
“For such ones are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. Did not even Satan marvelously transform himself into an angel of light? Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 MKJV).
It is argued by some that Billy Graham is a minister of God at a lower level, serving in the outer court of the living Tabernacle, but that others, like Charismatic leaders teaching the gifts, are called to minister on higher levels, in the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle or Temple.
I know this isn’t true because those who truly ministered in the outer tabernacle of Moses knew full well the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies existed. They wouldn’t have denied their existence or told you they were not for that day.
Billy Graham is a false minister, a star performer of Mystery, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots. He is a super deceiver, wittingly or not, intentionally or not, sincerely or not, humbly or not (he isn’t). The effect is all the same on those he “converts to Christ.”
People speak of Billy Graham’s great sincerity, and of his having won millions to Christ. But many people are sincere – Mormons, JWs, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Communists, Satan worshippers, and many more. Consider how Muslims are sincere to the point of blowing themselves up, even giving their children to do so.
As to winning souls to Christ, I have related how I was at a Billy Graham “crusade,” in which my roommate Fred Slater and I went forward. I was drawn to Billy Graham, thinking God was drawing me. His personality was magnetic and compelling.
Many went forward, as they always do. That night, my friend and I were part of the renowned statistics of “converts to Christ.” Billy Graham, not Jesus Christ, was the attraction. He has been anointed all right, but not by the Holy Spirit of God. My conversion that night was spurious, as are any at Billy Graham “crusades” that I have known (I’m not judging Billy strictly by my own experience).