1984-1986: Operation Clean Sweep
The original prayer battle in 1981 had done damage to the enemy, but the Net of Prayer was too few to really win the war. The Broken Cross System was broken up, but not destroyed. In other words, our prayer effort served to lessen the effects of the spiritual invasion, but nothing short of mass repentance would expose it and root it out completely.
By 1984 it was discerned that the Broken Cross System had taken Corpus Christi, the “Body of Christ.” The Net of Prayer was then led to go into spiritual warfare again on behalf of the Body of Christ.
The battle began in the heavens over Chicago, then moved to St. Louis, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Tucumcari, Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and finally to Corpus Christi. While we were in warfare over Amarillo (July 9, 1984), I had a split-second vision of the prayer battle.
In the vision I saw a vast army of evil spirits fighting with the spirits of men in rebellion against God. The army of God was in a single line, shoulder to shoulder, all riding white horses and wielding their spiritual weapons. Directly in front of me was a line of men dressed in brown monk robes. I came into the vision at the point where I was in the act of swinging the Sword of the Spirit.
One of the ministers in the vision (dressed in a monk robe) was cut down, and I was so startled that I literally came out of the vision, not wanting to see anything further. When I did, I could not remember the one I saw killed, but I knew that it was someone that I knew personally. I would not remember who it was for another year and a half.
Nearly a year later, in June 1985, I began to teach the art of spiritual warfare for the first time to the church in Batesville, Arkansas, which I was attending. The church was pastored by Red Thomas, a good friend and a father figure to me. Soon the Lord spoke to me about holding a prayer campaign for “revival,” which was to be called “Light to the Eyes Prayer Campaign.” It was to extend for twelve weeks from July 6 to Sept. 28, 1985.
“Prepare in three months. Fast and pray for revival. Fast one day a week just for revival. . . Set it for July 6, and let it run for three months.” (June 10, 1985)
At the midpoint of the prayer campaign, Pastor Thomas asked an evangelist to come and speak in the church for a week. On the final meeting, he spoke on the gift of tongues and did so in a well balanced teaching. Since our church was neither Pentecostal nor Charismatic, it is a tribute to the evangelist to say that his teaching did not cause any trouble, nor was there any opposition to it.
In fact, some of the people went up to him afterward and asked him for more information about Pentecost. He laid hands on them and they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, along with the gift of tongues. Each week end for the next six weeks, others from the church received the Holy Spirit baptism, until all of the active members had experienced this phenomenon.
This transformed the group into a Spirit-filled church, except for Pastor Thomas himself. This put him into a rather awkward position of trying to lead Spirit-filled people without experiencing for himself the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Yet because we all loved him very much, this did not overly concern anyone.
The problem was that it concerned Pastor Thomas, who now felt somewhat inadequate and perhaps fearful that the church was no longer what it had been. He tried to resign on October 20, but we would hear of no such thing. We all believed that he had been called as the pastor of the church.
The Anointing to Raise the Dead
A few weeks later, Jerry wanted us to attend a Charismatic church about 50 miles away in order to enlarge our horizons. So instead of attending our own church in Batesville, we went as a group to the other town. It was Sunday, November 10, 1985.
During the sermon, the pastor spoke of his younger days when he had been arrested for disorderly conduct. His parents had to come and bail him out of jail. On the way home their car struck a young boy who had run into the street while following a ball. The boy had been killed. He said, “I have had to live with that all my life, because it was on my account that the boy was killed.”
Suddenly, I heard the voice of God say, “By his hand, I will raise the dead.”
“Yes, that is excellent. Thank-you, Father.”
“You must anoint him with that gift.”
I objected, but to no avail, since he gave me confirming words from Scripture. These gave me no choice but to comply. So after the meeting, I introduced myself and told him what I had heard from the Lord. “If you are in agreement, that is fine,” I told him. “If not, that is alright as well.”
He agreed, and so I anointed him with a bit of oil, saying, “In Jesus’ name, by your hands, He will raise the dead.” Then I left as quickly as I could, thoroughly embarrassed by the whole ordeal.
Pastor Thomas Leaves the Church
On December 1st, while Pastor Thomas was preaching one Sunday, I was suddenly shown that he was going to leave the church on December 30 on the fourth anniversary of the day I left the church in Las Cruces, NM back in 1981. Something that Pastor Thomas said in his sermon made me realize that we were going to see things happen on the same dates as I had experienced four years earlier. Even in those early days, I had already seen how patterns of timing tended to repeat in later years on the same dates.
I then called a few of my friends together to seek God’s will in this regard. At the meeting, one had a vision of the church on fire. Another saw that the fire was hitting only the two front rows of the church. Another saw a fire truck attempting to put out the fire.
We discerned that the Holy Spirit was going to hit the church, but it would be limited in some way because of opposition. Somehow, this was linked to Pastor Thomas leaving the church on December 30.
In those days one of the vice-presidents of the company where I was employed was a Pentecostal believer, and he attended our church. We were good friends, but it often seemed as if he was testing me. Even today, I do not know why he did this. At any rate, he came to my office one day and asked if I believed in prophets. I reminded him that Ephesians 4:11 spoke of a five-fold ministry that included prophets. In our conversation I mentioned to him that Pastor Thomas was going to leave the church on December 30.
“Did he tell you that?” Bob asked.
“No, the Lord told me,” I replied.
“Ah,” he said. I could see that he was making a mental note of this in order to confront me with it on December 31. Whenever I saw him in the next few weeks, he would always bring this up to me and make me confirm the revelation to him, just to be sure there was no misunderstanding.
On Sunday, December 29, we had a very strange communion service at the church. Pastor Thomas called for the elders to come forward, and then he called half the church to the front. It certainly took no more than two people to administer the communion, so we felt somewhat awkward standing there doing nothing. Afterward, some people asked me what had happened. I did not know.
That same evening, however, the prophetic word began to be fulfilled in regard to the “fire” hitting the church. Normally, I had been the one in charge of teaching the word on Sunday evenings. But this time I had asked a student of Bill Britton to teach about the feast of Tabernacles, since I was largely unfamiliar with this feast in those days.
When he finished teaching, he raised his hands and prayed. At that point the Holy Spirit came down with great force upon the two front rows of the church. I was in the second row. The pastor and his wife were in the fourth row directly behind me. I felt a certain coldness on my back but did not dare turn around. When the meeting was done, I discovered that the pastor and his wife were gone, and that everyone in the back rows were trying to figure out what was happening in the front rows of the church.
There was much excitement, of course, as some told of their experience with the Holy Spirit that had hit the front rows. But I felt a sadness come over me.
“What’s the matter?” someone asked me.
“Did you not notice? Pastor Thomas is gone. I think that this was the final straw. Remember the word we got weeks ago that he was going to leave the church on December 30? That’s tomorrow. We need to fast and pray for him tomorrow.”
So three of us agreed to fast for him all day on Monday, the 30th of December.
Monday evenings we had been holding men’s meetings, and we had been discussing callings and church government. Toward the end of the discussion on that particular evening, December 30, suddenly Pastor Thomas stood up, looking very agitated. He turned to our host and said, “All I want is the communion table, because that was my mother’s.” Then he stormed out of the house and slammed the door behind him.
We were left stunned. My skeptic friend, Bob the Pentecostal, looked at me wide-eyed, as his jaw hit the floor. All he could say was, “Now I know you’re a prophet!” Apparently, he had heard from someone that I was a prophet, and so he had been asking me if I believed in prophets. (Like I said, I am just a Bible teacher.)
So the word came true on precisely the time that the Father had revealed. Later, I asked the Lord why this had happened, since we were all quite confused by it. The Lord gave me 1 Cor. 11:30,
30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.
Because Paul was writing about communion, I immediately connected this verse to the strange communion service from the previous Sunday morning. It occurred to me then that Pastor Thomas had wanted one last communion for sentimental reasons and had already decided to leave the church. But communion is a bond and a covenant among the body of Christ, whereas he was planning to break that bond by leaving. So he took communion “unworthily,” and this meant that he would “sleep,” that is, die.
Suddenly I remembered that he was the pastor that was killed in Operation Clean Sweep on July 9, 1984. My heart sank as the full realization of this hit me. I knew then that he was a dead man walking, and that it would only be a matter of time before he would physically die.
The day after Pastor Thomas left the church, the three of us who had fasted for him met him for lunch at a restaurant and requested that he allow us to leave. In other words, we gave him back his church. A group of us left the church in order not to cause any further problem with the Holy Spirit.
He was grateful to us and agreed to this. So we remained on good terms with him. However, I was still under some stress because of the communion revelation. I sought the Lord all day (Dec. 31), and then that evening I asked God, “Is there nothing that we can do? Must we sit back and just watch him die?”
Then I heard the voice of God say, “He needs someone with the anointing to raise the dead.”
This word turned my mourning into joy. I suddenly discovered why I had been told to anoint the other pastor with the anointing to raise the dead. “By his hands I will raise the dead,” God had said. Pastor Thomas was a walking dead man, and this meant that the other pastor was called to lay hands on Pastor Thomas and raise him from the dead before he died physically.
The following week, as I was working, my skeptic friend, the vice president of the company, walked into my office. By this time he had wired his jaw back to his face and had recovered enough to ask me, “Well, Mr. Jones, what’s going to happen next?”
He always called me “Mr. Jones.” Well, I really had not put together the pieces of the new revelation, nor had I thought in terms of timing up to then, but before I knew it, I had blurted out, “Pastor Thomas is going to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit on January 27, and it will be at the hands of Pastor Joe M—.”
Shocked, he exclaimed, “No way! Not in a million years!”
“Well, we’ll see,” I replied nonchalantly. The date of January 27 was another repeat date from four years earlier (1982), for it was the end of the first prayer campaign in the Net of Prayer.
Over the next few weeks, we forgot about this, since we were busy with other matters. Then one day the telephone rang. It was Jerry. He told me, “Pastor Joe M— is in town and would like to meet with us. Could arrange a meeting with him tonight?”
I suddenly realized that it was January 27. It was the day for Pastor Thomas to be filled with the Holy Spirit at the hands of Pastor Joe.
“Yes, bring him in. He’s right on time,” I told Jerry.
We hastily arranged a meeting at the same house where we had been meeting when Pastor Thomas had stormed out, slamming the door. Then I called to invite Pastor Thomas to the meeting, telling him up front that I had discerned some time earlier that Pastor Joe was the one called to lay hands on him to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He agreed to come and receive the Holy Spirit.
When Pastor Joe laid hands on him, Pastor Thomas had an incredible experience. He said later that he felt drunk like his old days as an alcoholic. That was one of the highlights of my life as well, but we were all elated at the victory and answer to prayer.
Most importantly, it indicated that Pastor Thomas had been raised from the dead, and therefore, he would not die at the time appointed. The appointed time, we knew by revelation, was a few months later on April 12, 1986. But in praying about this a few days later, the Lord said, “By your intercession, you have saved his life.”
Those of us who had left the church then met with Pastor Thomas and talked about three specific things that needed to be changed in order for us to return to fellowship. The most important thing was that we made it clear that we had to be in submission to God, rather than to men.
Pastor Thomas agreed to these terms without any hesitation, and so we returned to the church amidst much rejoicing and praise to God.
Unfortunately, the story did not end there. Two weeks later, Pastor Joe returned and asked to speak to the reunited church group on February 9. We gladly agreed to this. He came and informed us that our church had not been properly established under the authority of the apostles and prophets. He himself was a recognized apostle among the Charismatic churches in Arkansas, and so he felt constrained to put our church in “order.” That is, he placed himself in apostolic authority over us, and then appointed Pastor Thomas as the pastor.
In effect, this brought upon us the central problem of King Saul, placing us in submission to men. So once again, we called for a meeting to discern the will of God in this matter. We decided to wait and see what actual effect this might have upon Pastor Thomas. The following Sunday he announced from the pulpit that he was rescinding all three of the things we had agreed upon that had allowed us to reunite with the church. We met again to discuss it and decide what to do, and we were all agreed that we had no choice but to leave once again.
Our exit this time was more difficult and made some quite angry. I do not know if we could have handled it in a better way or not, but I know that leaving was the right thing to do. Even so, it was truly a sad day for all of us.
The next question in our minds was how this turn of events might affect Pastor Thomas on April 12, the day that had been appointed for him to die. We had hope, because the Lord had said specifically, “By your intercession, you have saved his life.” Yet even so, we worried about it.
On April 12, 1986 Pastor Thomas, who owned a farm outside of town, was attempting to irrigate his garden by pumping water from a pond. The pump was not working correctly, and somehow it blew up, burning him severely. He was rushed to the hospital, where the doctor told him that he was lucky to be alive.
He did live, but his abdomen was burned so badly that he could not put on a shirt for a long time. He had been working full time at a government office in Batesville, but he was unable to return to work for some time. One day in June he came to my office at work to pick up a supply of salve for his burn. (I worked for a company that made health products, including this salve.) He then told me that he had decided to retire on August 15.
I thought to myself, “No, he will retire on July 9,” because on July 9, 1984 I had seen him killed in Operation Clean Sweep. I knew then that his sentence of death had been reduced to near-death on April 12 and “retirement” on July 9.
On July 8, Pastor Thomas decided to retire the next day, July 9, 1986. Our intercession had indeed saved his life, but his circumstances had only been altered to reflect a better outcome on the appointed times.
It is now apparent that Pastor Thomas had provided us with a type of the Church under Saul, showing us the heart of the Church in general in those days. The Church had been called from 1981-1986 to fulfill its purpose, but it had failed to do so.
Pastor Thomas finally died on Feb. 9, 2008, precisely 22 years after Pastor Joe had put the church into submission to men. I will write more of this in a later chapter.