MOST UNLIKELY PROPHECY
During the era when I was still a member
of a denominational church, a group of us would meet for prayer
together. One of us would sit in the chair and the group would
lay hands on him and pray. As I was sitting in the chair with
the group praying for me, there was a word of prophecy in
which the Lord said that He was changing my name. The new
name He was giving me meant "Shepherd," because He was going
to make me the shepherd of many flocks and the church would
not be large enough to hold all of the people who would be
flocking to hear the Word of God.
Then there was another prophecy that followed some years later.
The discouraged group down at Calvary Chapel had met to determine
whether to call me to minister or to disband. As they were
praying, a word of prophecy came to them that I was going
to come, that I would seek to remodel the church immediately,
that I would be remodeling the platform area especially, that
the church was going to be crowded to where it could not contain
all of the people. The congregation would then have to move
to the bluff overlooking the bay, and would eventually develop
a national radio ministry, and become known around the world.
A more unlikely prophecy could not have been uttered to sixteen
discouraged people ready to quit and throw in the towel.
Far As The Eye Can See
In the wilderness of Galilee, where the
plains meet the mountains folding in upon them, there is a
beautiful but brief phenomenon. For just a few days every
year, beginning one early morning, you can look out on what
had been a plain, and see a meadow covered with a canopy of
wildflowers extending as far as the eye can see--poppies,
lilacs, buttercups, all radiating color and dancing in the
wind. It literally happens overnight.
One morning Kay and I looked out into the California streets
and on the beaches, and we beheld another radiantly colorful
sight: human forms, extending as far as the eye could see.
The countercultural revolution of the '60's had begun, and
the new citizens were the hippies, "heads," and trippers.
Their colorful outfits belied the deeper problem that they
represented. God was trying to tell us something, as we looked
out on that field. We faced the problem of a gap of culture
and thought that stood between our generations. I was brought
up in old-world piety compared to the fast-track rebellion
of the hippies. How could my wife and I cross this gulf?
The Lord clearly impressed on our hearts, Reach out in
love. Now we knew that love could never be contrived with
a group as sensitive and perceptive as that one. So, to quote
my wife, we saturated the air with prayers. She organized
late-night prayer groups and morning prayer groups. It seemed
that Kay and her friends were praying all the time. Meanwhile
I prayed with the elders and some church members. Before too
long, we both felt a quiet change in the air, an excitement
just beneath the surface.
Kay and I could feel growing inside our hearts, almost independent
of our own efforts a growing burden of love and concern from
God for these young people. With love would come necessary
understanding. Then we would be equipped to minister to the
real needs of these estranged youths. Could this be what God
had been preparing us for all these years? Were we looking
at fields rich with harvest, dislocated souls ripe for almost
anything from Buddha to Christ, and only waiting for the chance
to commit their lives? The cultural shift had happened quickly
between our generation and theirs, like wildflowers suddenly
appearing on the Galilean plains. How could we penetrate it?
Kay and I would often drive to a coffee shop in Huntington
Beach and park our car. We would sit and look at those kids
and pray for them. Where others seemed to be repulsed by these
dirty, long-haired "freaks," we could only see the great emptiness
of their hearts that caused them to turn to drugs for the
answers to life we knew only Jesus could supply. But how to
Then one day it happened. We met several youths who were hippies,
yet they had a different glow on their faces. They were Christians,
converted in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district through
a communal ministry called The House of Acts. They were perfect
representatives of their generation, having been to all the
"Human Be-Ins" in Golden Gate Park, Grateful Dead Concerts,
"acid tests," Merry Pranksters events, Whole Earth Festivals,
and communal experiments. They had done it all. Then one day
they saw the bottom of the elevator shaft within their souls.
They glimpsed the ultimate emptiness of their pursuit, and
finally called upon Christ to be the center and Lord of their
We invited a couple of these youths to move into our home
with us in Newport Beach. They soon moved some of their friends
in as well, and it became sort of a communal house for a while.
Our four kids accepted them and we began to understand their
disillusionment with the church and the adult world that they
called Straight Society. They had lost all faith in any values
that had preceded their generation. They took it upon themselves
to find newer and higher spiritual truths and begin a revolution.
But in their rootlessness, they were supremely vulnerable.
Without history they operated out of a vacuum. They were like
medieval peasants going into the sophisticated center of London,
naive people open to being conned by slick street sellers
and card tricksters. They denied the powers of darkness while
they trafficked in the occult. Yet, as C.S. Lewis observed,
God is equally happy with an occultist who worships him, as
he is with a rationalist who denies His existence.
As the numbers of new believers grew, we realized that we
had to find a place for these converted hippies to live. For
we could not send them back to the hippie communes, knowing
that they were not yet strong enough to resist temptations
of free sex and drugs that abounded there.
We started establishing Christian communal houses to hold
them. The initial elders came from the group that Kay and
I had put up for a while. Their own zeal was contagious as
they shared the rich truths of their newfound faith. By their
zealous sharing about Jesus to those on the beaches, in the
parks, and on the streets, they filled the area with the reality
and truth of Christ. As we will see in detail when I discuss
the lives and ministries of Greg Laurie, Jeff Johnson, Steve
Mays, Mike MacIntosh, and others [you have to order HARVEST
yourself to read of these amazing men and what the amazing
God did in their lives], this urgent and timely ministry took
off like a rocket. It was irrepressible. God decided to use
people whose lives had been a social engineer's nightmare.
And my wife and I witnessed this miracle time and again.
BARRIERS OF PREJUDICE
Ironically, the only resistance we encountered
to this move of God came from the church itself, those from
our midst who had grown up with the church backgrounds, those
from the "Straight Society." This sudden infusion of rebellious
youths met predictable opposition.
Our challenge was to overcome what most churches had not,
namely their insistence on respectability, conformity, and
a judgmental attitude toward anything that departed from the
norm. Many of our members rallied to the challenge, feeding
off the zeal of the hippie converts. But there were still
some who resisted and disdained these newest members of our
church who showed up with long hair, bells on the hems of
their jeans, bare feet, and who otherwise looked like wildflowers
in their great diffusion of dress inspired by American Indian
or Asian tribal styles. It was wildly creative. But it was
also threatening, especially to those with young children
who did not want them emulating hippies.
The interesting thing is how we saw love prove itself as God's
adhesive force time and again. Duane Hart, a man who today
is one of our elders, is a good example of the resistance
many felt. He was furiously suspicious of the hippie converts.
He felt that they were insincere freeloaders and manipulators
who were unable to change. Never would they be able to work
and support themselves.
Then one afternoon as Duane was working side-by-side with
a group of hippie converts at the time we were dismantling
a school building that had not been up to code he saw something
that pierced his heart. These lean, muscular young men worked
tirelessly as they sweat away in the summer sun pulling off
the old roof tiles. Long hours went by and they never slowed
down. By the end of the day, as they were scrubbing down piles
of old roof tiles for use on the new structure, Duane noticed
that their hands were bleeding from working so hard. And with
their hands bleeding, these young men worked on into the night,
singing of their newfound love for Jesus. God so convicted
Duane of his judgmentalism that by the end of the day, there
was not a word he could utter about them except in their defense
from then on.
On another occasion, a renowned surgeon came to Calvary Chapel
at the invitation of his future son-in-law, Don McClure. As
Dr. Anderson told us later, he had had utter contempt for
the hippie movement, and the morning he came to Calvary Chapel
he was very ill at ease in the packed crowd. As much as he
may have tried selectively to ignore these zealous converts,
they were everywhere.
Rigid as a board, the illustrious surgeon mouthed the hymns.
When it came time to read a passage of Scripture corporately,
this world-renowned man had no Bible. But sure enough, someone
near him did, a tall, shaggy, straggle-haired hippie. Reluctantly,
condescendingly, he accepted the Bible, perhaps the way a
Pharisee might take something from someone ceremonially unclean.
As he opened it, he noticed that it had apparently been read
with avid devotion, as Scriptures were underlined, starred,
colored with felt-tip markers, and notes were scrawled in
the margins. Shame and conviction flooded him. By the end
of the service something in him changed.
But it really came down to my having to make a statement to
men like Duane and some of our older members from straight
church backgrounds. It was an issue that could have destroyed
our work if we did not head it off. I told them:
"I don't want it ever said that we preach an easy kind of
Christian experience at Calvary Chapel. But I also do not
want to make the same mistake that the Holiness Church made
thirty years ago. Without knowing it, they drove out and lost
a whole generation of young people with a negative no-movie,
no-dance, no-smoke gospel. Let us at Calvary not be guilty
of this same mistake. Instead, let us trust God and emphasize
the work of the Holy Spirit within individual lives. It is
exciting and much more real and natural to allow the Spirit
to dictate change. Let us never be guilty of forcing our Western
Christian subculture of clean-shaven, short-hair styles or
dress on anyone. We want change to come from inside out. We
simply declare that drugs, striving to become a millionaire,
or making sports your whole life is not where true fulfillment
or ultimate meaning lies. Because the end of all these is
emptiness and disappointment."
Perhaps this involves interesting symbolism, but I think that
the last barrier to go in our church was the "bare feet" barrier.
When we got beyond that, we were home free. The pivotal incident
centered on a wide expanse of brand-new carpet that we had
just put in. Those who had been inwardly protesting the hippies
finally found a target upon which to vent their discontent.
Dirty feet soil carpets, and these carpets cost a lot of money.
Besides, who wants to see dirt marks on a brand-new carpet?
They took it upon themselves, early one Sunday morning, to
hang up a sign reading, No bare feet allowed.
For some reason I happened to reach the church earlier than
usual, and was in time to take down the sign. It was sad to
see division over things this trivial. It was also sad to
see what really lay behind the outward demarcations of division:
a we/they polarity instead of love. This time, I was the one
to call a board meeting, and I would not be overwhelmed in
the manner that I reported earlier. Now, not only was I on
the board, but I was president of the corporation. This did
not make me a dictator by any means, but it meant that I would
be free to be God's man with a clear conscience, and I would
not be in a position of a hireling.
Then I spoke from my heart to the board:
"In a sense it is we older established Christians who are
on trial before the young people. We are the ones who told
them about James 2 and 1 John 4:7. The kind of action we displayed
today puts a question mark across our faith. When things like
this happen we have to ask ourselves who or what it is that
controls and guides our motives.
"If because of dirty jeans we have to say to one young person,
'I am sorry, you can't come into church tonight, your jeans
are too dirty,' then I am in favor of getting rid of the upholstered
pews. Let's get benches or steel chairs or something we can
wash off. But let's not ever, ever, close the door to anyone
because of dress or the way he looks."
Calvary Chapel jumped over that last hurdle. We were ready
to move ahead.
...Before too long, I was sending people out to plant other
Calvary Chapels in other parts of California as well as across
the country. [And to read about this amazing Revival as it
spread across the country order HARVEST for yourself and read
it through. It's a page-turner!]
[This chapter is what I call The anatomy of a Christian
Revival. These are transferable concepts which Pastor
Chuck transferred to the pastors he trained and sent out across
the country and now the world. They are just as easily transferable
to other Christian fellowships and denominations as they were
to Calvary trained Pastors. Are you in a desert experience
in your own fellowship and with your own congregation? Try
these concepts and see what happens. I honestly believe you
will be in for a very pleasant surprise. And you will also
become very busy. The Lord will richly supply
the labor and the money you need, though. Just feed the sheep.
That's it. Now let's see how it was done. We have just read
about the results. So we know it works. And if you don't believe
me, visit a Calvary Chapel that's been around for five or
ten years. They don't stay small for very long. Talk to some
of the members. You will find they are deeply committed Christians
who know their Bible inside and out, so it's not just a numeric
growth, but spiritual as well. Now let's take a good look
at those transferable concepts, as explained by the one who
first successfully used them in modern times.]