19?? – In my mother’s womb
Before I was born, my parents already had SIX daughters. When my mother became pregnant with me, my dear father wanted to have me aborted. While I was just beginning to be formed in my mother’s womb, my parents went to a doctor who gave my mother a very powerful abortifacient which should have put an end to me. But God miraculously neutralized the deadly drug, and several months later I came into the world in the natural way.
About a decade later when my parents and I were walking down a street in New York’s Chinatown, they happened to come across that same doctor. My mother introduced me to him as her son. Recalling the abortifacient he had given her years earlier, he looked at me and gasped, “is he normal?”
My mother replied, “yes, not only that, he’s smarter than you!”
Why have I decided to share this at this time?
If the Lord had not miraculously saved me from the abortion in 1949, I would not have had the absolute privilege of training disciples in nearly 50 countries around the world—disciples who have brought millions of souls to Christ since they trained with us…and this after 43 years of full-time ministry. (And the best is yet to come.)
-Founder of The Elijah Challenge
Dad and me
1977 – Prophecy: “If you obey God like Abraham, your days on earth will be like heaven.”
In 1977 when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit following my receiving Jesus Christ at a Billy Graham Crusade in 1976, my Lucille wife and I attended a fellowship called “To Every Creature” led by missionary Robert Curry. At a service one day, Bob approached us and said something to us that appeared to be prophetic.
“If you obey God like Abraham, your days on earth will be like heaven.”
How did Abraham obey God?
Genesis 22:2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”
Isaac was Abraham’s only son who was miraculously conceived and born when he was 99 years old—as a result of God’s promise to Sarah. Abraham certainly loved Isaac more than anything else in the world, more than life itself. Now God was demanding Isaac back. What was Abraham’s response?
Genesis 22:3 So Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place of which God had told him.
Without hesitation Abraham obeyed God. The very next morning he took his beloved son and set out for Moriah. What happened at Moriah is of course very familiar to students of the Bible. What was Abraham’s reward for his “radical” obedience to God?
Genesis 2:16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
Through Pastor Bob the Lord had told us that if we obeyed God like Abraham, our days would be like heaven on earth.
Everyone wants to experience “heaven on earth”, whatever it might mean. But the cost for us would be very high. We would have to give up our “Isaac”. For most who have the blessing to live in America, “Isaac” would be the American Dream—“the good life.”
If we wanted to enjoy God’s promise to us of heaven on earth, we had to give up our American Dream. At that time I was in a program at the University of California with a Ph.D. within sight. And I had been accepted at Carnegie-Mellon’s top five Graduate School of Industrial Administration. And so the fulfillment of our American Dream was also in sight.
But at the urging of the Holy Spirit, we made the decision to obey God as did Abraham. We would give up the hope of “the American Dream” to obey the Great Commission. We would leave to preach the gospel in Indonesia, the country of Lucille’s birth. The following year in 1978, we left everything in the US for the mission field of Indonesia—the fourth most populous nation on earth with more Muslims than any other country. When we left, we had no financial support from any church in the US, no training or support from any mission organization, and no invitation from any church or group in Indonesia. I had known the Lord for only two years, and had not quite finished reading the Bible. When I arrived I had only a 28-day tourist visa.
But I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit according to Acts 1:8. And I had learned to put my trust in God; not with man’s help but by faith in God alone. I had chosen to obey God radically—like Abraham who was willing to sacrifice to God his beloved Isaac.
Over nearly the next nine years God graciously opened doors for us to proclaim his kingdom and make disciples in Indonesia. We witnessed many compelling miracles opening the hearts of the poor living in spiritually-dark, remote regions who had never had the opportunity to hear about the hope which Jesus provided for precious souls through his death and resurrection. The Lord now continues to use those we led to the Lord and discipled decades ago to advance His kingdom in Indonesia during these Last Days.
FULFILLED: We are now enjoying HEAVEN ON EARTH
Today God is fulfilling the promise He made to us in 1977. My wife and I are now enjoying heaven on earth. Although classified as “senior citizens”, we are both in exceptionally good health, not taking a single prescription drug between the two of us. My blood pressure is that of a young man. Our marriage of 46 years and counting is pleasing to the Lord. (We still hold hands.)
Our home is full of the Lord’s peace and contentment. We have few if any regrets.
I have trained over 10,000 disciples in 50 countries around the world. God has performed tens of thousands of miracles by the hands of those I’ve trained, leading millions to Jesus Christ. And I am convinced the best is yet to come.
Even in the face of the 2020 pandemic causing so much suffering, the Lord’s blessing upon us has increased. Even though our age group puts us at greater risk, we have absolutely no fear of the virus and in fact are as healthy as ever (Psalm 91:6). Due to the lockdown, we’ve been unable to go on international missions trips as we normally do. So instead we’re now using zoom to train the Lord’s harvest workers all around the world. During the pandemic we’ve trained disciples in Nepal, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. We’re currently training over one hundred disciples in the world’s most populous nation. Soon we’ll be training hundreds of believers in Malaysia…all from the comfort of our home. The ministry the Lord has entrusted to us is now more fruitful than ever.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
The Lord is also graciously fulfilling for us what He promised to Abraham:
Genesis 22:17a “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.”
Through those around the world we’ve trained, millions of souls—our spiritual descendants—have come to Christ. The exact number is known only to the Lord.
Genesis 22:17b “Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies…”
Our youngest daughter and her husband along with their two babies—our descendants—are now preaching the gospel on the foreign mission field.
We are living heaven on earth. It is because we chose to obey God in 1978. Just as Abraham was willing—radically—to give up his beloved son, we made the radical decision to trust God alone, giving up everything we had to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth to preach the good news to those who never heard
Our lives are PROOF that God exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6).
If you obey God in everything, you will be rewarded.
1987 – The Lord to Lucille when she was pregnant: “YOU SHALL BE GLAD.”
(Excerpt taken from Chapter 22 of Dancing on the Edge of the Earth, our missionary adventures in primitive regions of Indonesia)
There were deep times in the night when, if Lucille and I hadn’t been certain about God’s reality, we would have panicked. One Sunday morning, for example, about 2 o’clock, Lucille awoke me with the words, “I think it’s coming out now.”
I awoke instantly and understood Lucille’s calm words.
She was at the end of her term in expectation of our third child. The Lord had already given us two lovely, spunky daughters, Esther and Sarah, who were six and three years old, respectively. We had not requested a third, but we know that He does more than we ask or imagine.
When Lucille became pregnant a third time, she was not thrilled. When pregnancies are according to our plan we are happy. When they are not, we might want to grumble a bit, especially during the first nauseous trimester and the third heavy-laden one. Lucille was no exception.
On one particularly burdensome day in her third trimester when Lucille was particularly moody, the Holy Spirit spoke to her. Just four words, but after that the weariness of carrying the baby left and the grumbling stopped.
“You shall be glad,” He reprimanded her in a motherly way.
”Yes, Lord, thank You,” responded Lucille in her heart as the burden lifted, never to appear again. The living word of God is powerful and active!
Batu Ampar was far from the missionary hospital in Serukam where our two girls Esther and Sarah were born, requiring each time travel first by boat, then car, and finally by air on a Missionary Aviation Fellowship single-engine Cessna to arrive at the hospital. We were not eager to make another time-consuming trip, so we procrastinated until Monday, August 10, after all ministry duties on Sunday had been attended to. But God and the little one had other plans.
Sarah and Esther
When Lucille woke me in the middle of the night, I knew we were not going to make it to the hospital. It was going to be just we, the little one, and the Lord! I slid out of bed into the darkness of our bedroom. Normally after ten o’clock at night we would shut down the small diesel generator behind our house that provides evening lighting for us, leaving us with flickering kerosene lamps to ward off total darkness. Turning on the clanging generator in the middle of the night would awaken the whole neighborhood plus Esther and Sarah, who were sleeping in the next room. Instead I connected a forty-watt fluorescent lamp to a car battery which I normally used to power an electric fan to keep me cool during warm afternoons.
Lucille handed me a large paperback book. “Quick, read Chapter Nineteen,” she instructed me between painful contractions. I grabbed the book — the title Where There Is No Doctor stared back at me. Who else was going to deliver the baby but me? Chapter 19 provided concise and simple steps for delivering a baby. I sat down and read furiously.
Several minutes later I returned to the bedroom with sterilized scissors and clean sheets (Note: never attempt to sterilize scissors with plastic handles in boiling water. Plastic melts…see below.). Lucille was already in the advanced stages of childbirth.
“Give me a pillow!” She gasped from the bed. Thinking she wanted to make herself more comfortable I handed her one. She grabbed the pillow and, covering her face with it, muffled a loud, piercing scream. Never before had I heard her scream in such a way. Lucille had great tolerance for pain, but the birth pangs were so unbearable she could not restrain herself. Not wanting to wake our neighbors she stifled her scream by burying her face in a pillow. Concern began to mount in my heart.
“It’s already our third child,” I worried to myself. “It’s not supposed to be that painful. Is something going wrong?”
I began to pray frantically. “Lord,” I pleaded, “let there be no complications. There’s no doctor here, and I won’t know what to do if an arm or a leg comes out first. Help us, Lord, and let the baby be born normally!”
I sat facing Lucille, breathlessly watching what was going to happen. All the instructions, warnings, and cautions I had memorized from Chapter 19 of Where There Is No Doctor had deserted me. Lucille had in particular reminded me that the head of the baby will be the first and biggest part of the body to squeeze through the birth canal. Once the head came out, the rest would be fast, sometimes even too fast. I would have to gently restrain the baby to keep it from coming out too forcefully.
A minute, perhaps more, elapsed. Then I saw it. The little one’s head slowly emerged into view. I sat frozen by what I was witnessing. After the head came out, the body, unrestrained by me, shot out like a cannonball. A warm, wet body slithered into my outstretched arms.
Looking down, I stammered, “Lucille, it’s — it’s — it’s another girl!”
As she took in her very first breath, the little one let loose a long, vigorous cry piercing the early morning quiet. Lucille sighed with relief. In the next room, Esther and Sarah began to stir in their bed.
“Mommy and Daddy,” their sleepy voices drifting through the ventilation screening atop the wall separating our rooms, “is the baby born?”
“Yes,” I answered softly.
We named her Christina. Praise the Lord. True to the word He had given Lucille, God gave Christina an unusual spirit of comfort to bring extraordinary gladness to those around here.
“YOU SHALL BE GLAD” FULFILLED and more
As Christina was growing up, not once did we ever see her get angry, throw a temper tantrum, or even talk back to us. She was always happy and well-adjusted, with tons of friends. To us her parents, she was the “perfect” child.
The Lord is continuing to fulfill his promise to Lucille when Christina was still in her womb. Today (2021) she and her husband Aaron along with their two daughters Penny and Shiloh are serving on the Third World mission field, proclaiming the gospel to those who never heard.
June 1999 – The vision and the dream
On a Sunday morning in June 1999 as I was preparing to preach at the Sunday morning service in our church in Houston, I received a vision from the Lord.
We had been in full-time ministry since 1978 when we began serving as missionaries preaching the gospel and making disciples in unreached areas of Indonesia. Following our return to the United States in 1987, we planted and pastored churches in New York City and Houston. But by June 1999 I had made a decision to step down from the pastorate. Although we could plant churches, I discovered that staying on to pastor them in the traditional manner was not my calling. Although my salary at our church was helping us to pay our bills and feed our family of three daughters, I could no longer serve. You could say I was miserable.
But I had no idea what I was going to do after stepping down from the pastorate. For all I knew, I might end up flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Nevertheless I was going to trust the Lord, just as I had done in 1978 when by faith Lucille and I gave up everything we possessed to follow the Lord the ends of the earth to minister in primitive regions of Indonesian Borneo.
During that Sunday morning in June 1999 while in prayer in my living room, my eyes were opened. No longer in my living room, I was walking down the street in a somewhat dilapidated neighborhood. To my left I saw a drab rectangular structure of some sort by the side of the road. It seemed to be made of adobe or concrete and was unpainted and unattractive. There was a single window-like opening in a wall that faced me as I walked toward the structure. Curious, I left the road and walked up to the structure to peek through the opening.
As I stuck my head through the opening, the entire structure turned to dust around me in the blink of an eye and disappeared. There remained no trace of it. Suddenly I was lifted up into the air and whisked away high in the sky. In rapid-fire movie clips as it were I was taken to different places around the world; I could see them from the air high above. Finally I saw what appeared to be heavenly sights that were not of this world. Then the vision ended as abruptly as it had started. A few minutes seemed to have elapsed.
Needless to say I was amazed at what I had seen. In view of my giving up the pastorate in just another week to live by faith, I wanted to know what the Lord had just shown me. And so I prayed to the Lord to reveal to me the meaning of the vision. I then fell into a sleep during which the He gave me a dream. The quality of the dream was identical to that of the vision which I had just seen. In the dream I was riding in a vehicle which I can only describe as similar to a train car. I was the only one in the “train.” There was no locomotive pulling the car and no one operating it. All by itself the car was moving over the ground at very high speed. Nor was it traveling on rails as normal trains do; it did not touch the ground at all. I was simply a helpless passenger on the train looking out the windows in wonder as it powered ahead irresistibly.
The train did not slow down regardless of where it went. As it ascended a steep mountain its speed was not diminished in the slightest. I was terrified when it rounded a sharp curve high up on the mountain but kept going at full speed. Amazingly it stayed on course and did not go flying off the mountain as I thought it surely would.
In the car I was taken to all kinds of distant places around the world. Finally I saw glorious sights which appeared heavenly.
Then I woke up. Though I did not understand the meaning of the vision and the ensuing dream, I felt that the Lord was somehow telling me that He would be with me as I left the pastorate in one more week to live by faith in Him. At that time we had one daughter about to start college at New York University and two younger ones to follow.
FULFILLED: The Fulfillment of the Vision and Dream
The following year in 2000 I was invited to go on a mission trip to North India as one of the team members. I was given an opportunity to preach in open-air evangelistic crusades, and I witnessed the Lord heal the sick miraculously to confirm the message of the gospel. During our nine years as missionaries in Indonesia, the Lord had taught us how to heal the sick as Jesus did in the gospels and as He taught and commanded His disciples (Luke 9:1-2; 10:9). Because of the many miracles which took place through us and the Indonesian disciples we had trained, many who had never heard the gospel before came to saving faith in Christ. On that mission trip to India in 2000 I began to minister to the infirm in the same way, and many were healed.
Then I decided to train the Indian believers, including those who had just received Jesus Christ, how to heal the sick in the same way. And as these believers laid hands on the infirm and exercised their authority in the name of Jesus Christ, people were being healed. I was so excited to be able to give away what the Lord had so freely given to me.
When I returned to the United States from this short mission trip, I knew what the Lord wanted me to do. I was to train ordinary believers to heal the sick and cast out demons as Jesus did and as He taught and commanded His disciples to do when He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God. The ultimate purpose would be the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
Since then we have taught The Elijah Challenge to tens of thousands of believers in 50 nations, including pastors, evangelists, and missionaries. Some of these have gone on to have very powerful ministries altogether winning millions of souls and are also training others as they themselves were trained.
Elijah Challenge-trained Pastor Simon Haqq leads the fastest-growing ministry in India.
At three meetings in the past he witnessed one million souls accepting Christ each time—a total of roughly 3,000,000 souls.
We now witness miraculous healings every time we teach and when we preach the gospel. In predominantly Hindu India, churches have been profoundly impacted and many new churches are being planted in unreached villages following the preaching of the gospel accompanied by miraculous healings performed through trained servants of God. The largest unreached people group in the world is now being penetrated by disciples we have trained. The gospel can be preached much more effectively to the lost when miraculous healings confirm the truth of the gospel to them.
As we train the Lord’s disciples, we are beginning to see the fulfillment of John 14:12 in which Jesus promised that those who believe in Him will do the works that He did, including the miraculous works of healing the sick and casting out demons.
The Lord is graciously fulfilling the vision and dream which He gave to me in June 1999. I now understand their meaning more fully.
The drab, unpainted concrete-like structure which I saw in the vision represented my ministry as a traditional church pastor. As the structure had turned to dust before my eyes, so my ministry as a local pastor had vanished. The Lord has since then taken us to distant nations around the globe to teach and preach. The speeding “train” in my dream was not anchored to the ground on rails and did not touch the ground. Instead it was carried by the Spirit and powered by the Spirit. And that is what the Lord has so graciously done for us since 2000. Wherever we go the enemy has not been able to stand against us and we see victory after victory.
He has graciously fulfilled the many prophecies made over us by His prophets over the years, all of which have been consistent in theme with the vision and the dream He gave me in 1999. One such fulfilled prophesy is:
2 Samuel 7:8 This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock… 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you.
Extraordinary reports from our faceless workers in India