My wife and I are what we like to identify as being supernaturalists. Over the years, our ministry has been punctuated by multiple encounters of the other-world sort. I would like to share some thoughts about that, as well as excerpts taken from a course that I had to take it that liberty that forced me to examine my personal life and ministry. It was a psychology class that focused in on the development of the minister. The paper itself was comprised of 124 pages. Obviously, it was more thorough and extensive than what I am submitting to you now, but this should help you to get to know us better. By the way, if you like these stories, as I think you will, I have many more where they came from.
Anton LaVey Encounter
One story that I love to tell revolves around an encounter that I had between Anton LaVey and myself in 1980. LaVey was the founder of the church of satan in San Francisco. At the time, I was working for Teen Challenge. Part of my duties revolved around the outreach and evangelism. This allowed me to be part of the leadership ministry of SOS San Francisco, a street ministry that began in 1979. I was assigned to be the staff liaison between Teen Challenge and SOS, thereby giving me a seat on the Steering Committee for the first major outreaches into San Francisco.
This particular story begins on a cold foggy August evening in San Francisco on Polk Street. During that era, Polk Street was the central focal point for the young male prostitutes, which made it a significant contributor to the difficulties and problems that were inherent within the San Francisco community. Polk Street was a great place to witness to young and old alike who had lost their way in life. Any of the young people who hung out on Polk were run away children or what we would consider throwaway kids. They had nowhere to go or any one to turn to that ha there interests in mind, so they resorted to street prostitution and drug use as a survival mechanism.
On that particular evening, I was in charge of two teams of approximately twenty people each who had been commissioned to go to Polk Street and witness to the people who gathered there by passing out Tracks (pamphlets about the faith), sharing testimonies, and reaching out as friends to hurting souls in general. Things did not go as we had expected, however. A normal night of witnessing would be comprised of singing, prayer, distributing written pamphlets or sheets that helped to incite conversation about faith and discussion about life. With San Francisco being an iconic fixture that represents sin and degradation on a grand scale, it was usually fairly easy to assemble significant groups of people to invade the City by the Bay and blitz the city with our godly ‘propaganda.”
That night we encountered significant resistance, as a number of satanist’s gathered to oppose us. Over the course of the evening they did everything they could to disrupt us and to try to prevent our team from accomplishing our goal, which was to share the love of Jesus with people that we felt desperately needed to hear the story of Jesus and the message of grace that comprises the Gospel’s. Those who opposed us spat in our faces, attempted to rip up our Bibles, cursed at us, threw feces at us and condoms filled with urine, trying to chase us off the street. We would not be deterred however, as we had a goal in mind and a task to accomplish, as we believed that we had a divine mandate. This proved to be true, as the following months saw an sharp increase in illness and death among the homosexual community in San Francisco, as the yet to be named pandemic of HIV/AIDS began to sweep through the city.
As the evening progressed, I became engaged in a conversation with two young men who turned out to be part of the group of satanists who had gathered to oppose us. At that time, I had been a Christian for about three years, and was able to spar with them fairly significantly, as I understood many of their perspectives, due to my pre- conversion experiences. I had grown up in what would be considered a non-Christian environment that made allowances for occult beliefs and practices. My friends and I began experimenting with drugs as pre-teens, and many of us followed very diverse spiritual paths that embraced most thoughts and beliefs minus Christianity.
As the night wore on, I was making headway in my conversation with these young satanists, which was frustrating them in some pretty intense ways. Our conversation was soon to be interrupted, as one of the men who participated in the outreach came running across the street calling out my name. As he came up to us, he paused and asked me to go across the street, indicating that an emergency had broken out, and that I was needed in order to resolve the situation. He began to tell me that a gentleman whom we had led to the Lord the night before was about to get into a fistfight was someone who was accosting and confronting him over his faith. The new convert had been a body builder, an experience that had developed during a stint in prison and his former time in the military. His conversion was a pretty spectacular one, as he had been a barker at a Strip Club in the Broadway District of the city. I had engaged him in conversation on numerous occasions only to be rebuffed, until that one particular evening when he fell to his knees on the street and cried out to Jesus for salvation. Upon getting up, he discarded his flyers and promptly walked away from his job and lifestyle. He began living in a discipleship home, eventually went to a Bible College and wound up in full time ministry, but I digress.
As I began to head across the street, the two young satanists continued in their conversation with me as they followed me to the other side; however their tone began to change. As we were crossing the street they told me that they were happy to see that we were about to go back to the good old days of Rome where it would be lions 10, Christians 0, obviously referring to the atrocities that happened in the Coliseums. As I came upon the group where the confrontation was taking place, I saw three or four men holding back Michael, the young convert. Facing him was a fairly tall gentleman who was broad shouldered and who had a glaring feature that stood out: he was completely bald. As I drew closer to the crowd, I was also able to see a very distinct beard that the man wore. As I saw him in profile, I immediately recognized him. It was Anton LaVey. At the time many people knew what he looked like, especially if you had ever read, owned or looked at the ‘satanic bible,’ a book he had penned. His photograph was a part of the back cover of the paperback version.
I put my hand on Michael’s chest and asked him to calm down, explaining to him that it would not look good in the next day’s paper to see a headline splashed across the San Francisco Examiner stating that a rowdy group of Christians were arrested for rioting and fighting at Polk street the night before. With those instructions being given, I then sent Michael away with another team member to go get a soda and calm down. He agreed and left without getting physical with LaVey. By the time I met up with him the following morning, his demeanor had changed and he was very repentant for almost losing control of his faculties the night before.
It was at that time that LaVey turned and faced me and began laughing, as he then asked if I was the leader of the group, to which I replied yes. He then told me that he was happy to see me, as he loved to eat Christians for breakfast lunch or dinner, especially when they were leaders. This allusion to cannibalistic practices was obviously intended to incite fear and prompt images of some of the more esoteric stories that surround paganism in society. He then begun to release one of the vilest strings of vulgarities and challenges to my God that I had ever heard. As he continued with his comments I quietly began to gather my thoughts. I did this by speaking in tongues below my breath. I began to ask my Father for strength and grace in order to confront this individual. I also asked God for wisdom and the ability to speak up properly when given the chance. Part of me wanted to call down fire from heaven, part of me wanted to turn and leave. Part of me wished I wasn’t in the situation I had myself thrust into.
After what seemed like an eternity, a pause finely opened in the one sided conversation. With a break finally occurring, I began to speak. What came out surprised me, as I began to challenge this individual in a strong, prophetic manner. I began to issue my own challenge and to denigrate LaVey’s god’s, by routinely indicating their lack of power versus my Jesus and his infinite abilities. One of the ways I did this was by dragging my foot against the concrete and creating an imaginary line. I then proceeded to tell this profane individual that I knew he was very angry with me, as I had exposed him to a conversation about the blood of Jesus and the supernatural ability of Holy Spirit. I told him that I knew that the spirits that inhabited him were very upset with the words I was speaking and I knew that they would love to attack me. So I challenged him to do so, if he could. I told him that my God was bigger and stronger than his, and that I could prove it. I then threw out a test for him and the demons he served. I could see the anger in his face and I could sense the demonic stirring in his heart. I told him that I knew he wanted to strike me. Then I said “go ahead if you can. But my God will stop you from hitting me.” Let me interject that I knew he possessed a black belt in numerous martial arts disciplines and that if I were hit by him, it would hurt a whole lot.J
Praise God, my trust in Jesus’ surpassed my concern over taking a beating at the hand of this man that I faced. With that said, I told LaVey that he could try as hard as he wanted to hit me and that my Jesus would stop him every time. To my chagrin, LaVey took me up on my challenge. LaVey tried to hit me. He drew his arm back and thrust it forward with a clenched fist. As his fist was rapidly moving toward my face, it stopped mid air and froze, much to his dismay. He then repeated the process. I told them that he could not hit me and that he also could not cross the imaginary line that I drew. He then tried to step across, only to freeze in his tracks. At that moment, his face began to change. Previously, the veins were sticking out in his neck and he has head. His color had turned to a purplish hue, his eyes were glowing with anger as they narrowed to small slits, and he could barely control himself. All this changed as his face began to flush. His eyes became very big as he took a step backward. Anger began to be transformed into fear. The vivid colors that had given him differing hues now faded to an ashen discoloration.
He quickly turned and quickly moved toward a light post that was close to where we were having this encounter grabbing it with both hands; he began to bang his head against it screaming at the top of his lungs in a demonic (Enochian) language. Due to some of the areas I had studied in my youth, I knew what he was attempting to do. He was trying to dislodge the words that he had heard me speak, knocking them out of his head and out of his spirit, which is a common occultist practice when a practitioner of the dark arts is confronted with words or thoughts they do not to remember or to allow to have any power over them. They believe in the power of words and their influence in their ability to inhibit or release their energy. I promptly followed him and began telling him that the words I spoke to him were so strong and so powerful and contained so much power that the harder he hit his head, the deeper they would go in, and that these words would never depart from his mind and spirit.
With that being said, I challenged him to find real power. I told him that I knew about his quest for power and influence in the spiritual world, and that he had been an influence in my life prior to my conversion. I showed him a tattoo I still had on my left hand, which was the sign of appolyon, the god of destruction. Earlier in our conversation, I had indicated that one of the signs of his god’s impotence was clearly demonstrated in their inability to kill me, as I had crossed over to the opposite side of spirituality in a profound way when I became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I told him that in his quest for power he’d been deceived and if he wanted true power, he would have to bend his knee to the Lord whom I served and whose power stopped him at every turn on this fateful evening. With that, he began to run up the street toward a corner. Upon hitting the intersection, he turned left and ran full speed, only to disappear into the night. The last time I saw his face, he looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. I then turned to the two young satanists’ who witnessed this event and said to them: “I guess tonight its Christians 1 lions 0. Are you next?” They then follow their leader and disappeared into the night. It was a powerful demonstration of the supremacy of Jesus over the powers of darkness, and it gave me an Elijah type power encounter. Although this didn’t happen on Mt. Carmel, it did happen on Polk Street in the heart of San Francisco.
16th & Mission
San Francisco was an amazing place to be discipled. It was rife with possibilities for significant encounters with God as you were out in the streets ministering. One such occasion happened as I was preparing to leave San Francisco for Santa Cruz and Bethany College. One of my duties as the Outreach Coordinator for Teen Challenge was also one of my great joys. As part of my duties, I would take a group of men out to the streets in order to conduct street evangelism ministry. On this one particular Saturday afternoon, I took the men to 16th and Mission, which is one of the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stations. It took us a couple of times around the block to finally find a spot to park, but once we did, we quickly took to the streets. There was a hint of melancholy in the air, as this was to be my last excursion out in the streets of San Francisco with these men. Sunday would see me moving away to begin the pursuit of a Bachelors degree from a Pentecostal College.
As we set up close to the street corner, a couple of us removed our guitars from their cases in order to establish an atmosphere of worship and invitation. Our normal procedure was to pray, set up an atmosphere of worship, give what we dubbed popcorn testimonies and messages (short and quick), and then find people to pray with or for. This was a very effective way to touch numerous people in a rapid way. We developed it intentionally with Bus Stops in mind, as we only had a few minutes in order to touch their hearts and expose them to the power of the Gospel.
This one particular day started out fairly uneventful, with a few good responses, but that was about to change quickly. As one of the men shared his testimony, an observer suddenly began to spew a string of profanities and hurtle threats in our direction. The tone was extremely hostile, and the volley had a chilling effect on the people who were milling around and listening to us. The vitriolic barrage became more pronounced the longer we remained, causing me to consider taking the group elsewhere, as I didn’t like to keep them in a hostile environment, as some of them were just off of the streets themselves, and I didn’t want to run the risk of an undue conflict. I should interject and tell you that one of the stipulations I had to agree to abide in order to take the men out into this type of environment was the condition of discretion, as my superiors did not want Teen Challenge placed in a compromised position. They didn’t want the possibility of violence to erupt while the men were sharing their faith, as they saw that as counter-productive. They were aware of what had happened with me when Anton LaVey and I had our challenging encounter.
Just as I was thinking about packing it in, a couple of Beat Officers came on the scene and took the disruptive onlooker away from us. I occasionally would look over to see what was going on with this man, as he was obviously inebriated and possibly in drug induced rage, with us becoming the focal point of his wrath. The Police Officers had cuffed this man a couple of times, only to eventually let him go, with an admonition to leave us alone.
The Officers happened to finally let him out of their custody just as we were contemplating leaving for home. As we began to pack in, one of the men in our group pointed out our antagonist and stated something to the effect that God should strike him down for his indiscreet comments that had been directed at us just a short time earlier. I need to point out the ironic nature of this comment, as this particular Elijah had been a Heroin Junkie, filling his veins with Smack only three months earlier. I pointed this out and told him that we should all be glad that God doesn’t deal with any of us that way, and that his grace is more than sufficient for the worst of us.
The man who had become so vile toward us had gone over to a wall at the outskirt of the Stations perimeter, and sat down next to an assortment of troubled people. Before we left to go to the Van, a couple of the guys approached me about using the Restroom at the BART entrance. I consented to their request, and used the break to go over to where the man who had been yelling at us earlier was sitting in order to try and draw him into a conversation. I had a dual reason for this: on one hand I wanted to help the men see grace enacted, and on the other hand, I knew that anyone who acted like he did must have some pretty significant hurts that prompted him to react toward the Gospel in the way he had. As the men who were in need of the toilet facilities disappeared into the abyss that descended down to the station, I sat down to the immediate right of the man with the foul mouth. He growled at me at first, but then resigned himself to my presence as I began to tell him that I wanted to make sure that he was OK.
He then proceeded to tell me about his life. As it turned out, he had just been paroled from State Prison days earlier and was in a rage concerning the events he faced when he went to see his girlfriend unannounced. I had told him who we were and how we routinely dealt with men like him, helping people in crisis. He told me that when he knocked on his girlfriend’s door, he was surprised to see her open the door with a baby in her arms, and his best friend in the background. He had served a two and one half year stint, which meant he couldn’t possibly be the father of this child. He had maintained contact with her through correspondence, but she had never physically visited him while he served his time of incarceration. He explained to me that he had thought this lack of visitation was due to financial pressures, which isn’t uncommon when someone is serving time in prison. As it turned out, his former best friend had begun living with his woman, and eventually impregnating her with his child.
No one ever bothered telling about these events until that surprise visit, thus triggering his drug and alcohol binge, and the subsequent enraged outburst of emotions. Apparently the Police Officers had a measure of compassion toward him upon hearing his story, although they held him at bay in order to protect us from his wrath. By this time he was beginning to see the effects of his artificial stimulants wearing off, and he was much more approachable. By this time in the conversation, the men had returned from their use of the toilet and let me know that they were ready to leave. I then asked the young man if I could pray for him before we left. By the way, he had apologized for his erratic behavior and outburst of profanities, for which I promptly forgave him and offered to put him up at Teen Challenge if he was in need of emergency shelter. He accepted my offer for prayer, and I gently placed my hand on his shoulder and began to pray for him.
I was startled to hear what I perceive to be the voice of the Lord speaking to my heart at that moment. His words were something to the effect of: “Start fighting, you’re in a war.” I immediately knew what He meant, as the man began to twitch, growl, and his face began contorting uncontrollably. All of this was accompanied by his eyes rolling back into his head and profuse foaming of the mouth. If this wasn’t enough, a series of alternative voices began to manifest as he attempted to speak to me. It’s true; I was in a war battling against demonic forces that had set up residency in this man.
Over the course of the next half hour to forty five minutes, I began casting out an assortment of spirits. As one was excised, another was surface, thus creating a new battle with crowd of people who became observers growing as the event continued to escalate. At one point, a broken down prostitute was sitting next to me, with a wino next to her on the other side. The two began to talk about the situation I was involved in. The prostitute asked the wino concerning what I was doing to the man who was in the midst of an impromptu deliverance time of ministry. The wino turned to her and said: “don’t you now? God and the devil are fighting, and God is winning (is that cool, or what?).” Eventually, some of the men came over to ask for permission to go and use the toilet again. I told them no, as I needed them to help me pray fro this man. I was promptly told that they didn’t want to lay hands on him, probably out of a misguided fear of something jumping off and infecting them. I then asked them to lay hands on me and pray for me as I engaged the enemy. This they could do. As they bean laying hands on me, the most amazing thing happened.
This man who had been twitching and manifesting in a very evil way, jolted straight, threw his head back with his face pointed toward the sky, his eyes returned to normal and he stopped the foaming thing. Then he blew my theology right out the back door. With tears streaming down his face, he began speaking in tongues and praising God with fervency. This outburst of language that was anything but foul lasted about twenty minutes. I had not had the opportunity to lead him in a prayer of salvation, so I was a little mystified, to say the least. Finally, he calmed down, and with an entirely new demeanor, and facial expression, he told the rest of the story.
When he was much younger, he had attended a series of revival meetings with Victory Outreach. During those meetings, he had opened up his life and heart to Jesus, accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He began attending regularly, only to grow discouraged as he put it, due to the fact that he had never ‘felt’ God’s presence, which can be a high value in most Pentecostal venues, of which Victory Outreach certainly identifies. This discrepancy made him doubt the reality of God and the testimonies of his friends at church. Eventually he drifted away and became involved in gangs, drugs and a whole host of criminal activities, which eventually led to his latest bout of incarceration.
It seems that God had not given up on him, even if he had given up on God. I asked him if he realized what was happening with him. His response was: “are you kidding?” “I may have doubted before, but I know that God is real now.” “I’ll never leave Him or doubt His love for me ever again.” As the conversation drew to a close, I gave him a card with all the Teen Challenge information on it and then proceeded to take the men back to the center for a final diner with these men that I both loved and led.