A Short History Of Prophecy In the Contemporary Church From Someone Who Was There: ‘It’s A Hard Thing’
Seaborn Hall, 2/13/21
I came into the ‘prophecy movement’ in the church in 1989 at ‘The Gathering of The Prophets’ in Irvine, California. It was there that I witnessed a prophetic voice, Paul Cain, deliver accurate words of knowledge to strangers in the audience of thousands. I was also introduced to a handful of other prophetic voices, most of whom came out of a charismatic church in Kansas City led by pastor Mike Bickle.
For years after that, I attended The Anaheim Vineyard where John Wimber was pastor. In the short time that he had Wimber introduced the gift of prophecy and the prophets from Kansas City to a worldwide audience, first through a course on the supernatural and healing that he taught at Fuller Seminary in California, then through exporting prophecy and renewal conferences to churches worldwide.
I was also present in Phoenix, Arizona during the early 1990’s when one of the Kansas City prophets told the audience present that the American church would be like Paul’s last missionary journey on his trip to Rome. The ship that we were on, the church, would be dashed upon the rocks and we would suffer the loss of all things – yet we would survive.
John Wimber, Brent Rue And The Anaheim Vineyard
I was present at a small church in Santa Ana, California in the early1990’s when this same prophetic voice prophesied to pastor Brent Rue of the Lancaster Vineyard, who had cancer, that he would live and not die. Rue had recently been on stage with Rick Joyner and Bob Jones during a prophetic seminar at the Revival Fire Conference at Anaheim when angels appeared as shooting/streaming lights – something out of a Star Wars movie – to some of the participants, myself included.
Within a year, in early 1993, Rue, one of John Wimber’s right hand men and an early advocate of the prophetic, had passed away. He was 48.
Later in the 1990’s I was an intern on the staff of the Anaheim Vineyard with a good friend of mine shortly after Wimber gave the church over to someone else to lead and relegated himself to international ministry and retirement. Within a couple of years that person was trapped within various sins and had to step down.
Around this time my friend suffered the loss of his marriage. His wife became weary of the high promise and low fulfillment of the prophetic at the church and with where her husband thought God was leading him. They separated and she became involved with someone else. Still separated, my friend eventually took up with another woman and had a child. Within about a year or so, my friend, who was charismatic and well-liked and had many impressive prophecies over his life, had passed away from cancer. He was only in his 40’s and had hundreds of people attend his memorial service at the church.
Later, I was present during Wimber’s re-induction ceremony before the church. He made a statement to the effect that “I guess I’m the only one here who can hear God.” At the time I remember thinking, “Oh-oh, that’s not good,” and wondering how long he would be around.
Within about a year, Wimber, who had weight issues and was on Coumadin, a blood thinner, fell in the bathroom and hit his head. He insisted he was ok and did not go to the hospital. The next day at lunch he lapsed into a coma from which he never recovered. He was only 63, and there had been no hint of any scandal or major sin in his life. The year was 1997.
John Paul Jackson, Bob Jones And Paul Cain
John Paul Jackson was one of the prophetic voices who grew up at Kansas City and then in Wimber’s ministry at Anaheim. During his life John Paul also had no hint of scandal related to his ministry, even though he was charismatic, gifted, and had movie star good-looks.
During one of his Advanced Dream Seminars in Pasadena, California around 2002 he shared with the class that the Lord had told him that he would live until he was 102. In early 2015, he contracted pneumonia, following a successful fight against cancer, and passed away prematurely at the age of 64.
Around this same time in the early 2000’s, while I was doing a doctoral at Fuller Seminary and teaching Greek, I told my class about a man called the ‘father of the modern day prophetic’, Paul Cain. Paul had introduced the gift of prophecy and modern day ‘prophets’ to the Vineyard movement around 1989 when John Wimber invited him to Anaheim to speak. Paul had predicted an earthquake would occur in Southern California on the day that he arrived and the day that he left as a sign that God was with him. It happened just as he said it would.
At the same time, another prophetic voice that ministered internationally through the Vineyard movement, Bob Jones, was accused of using his prophetic gift to manipulate at least one woman into sex. Wimber banned Jones from public ministry for two years – but after a shorter period, Bob declared that the Lord had released him and continued ministering on his own.
Bob went on to have a fully restored prophetic ministry under Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries, another marriage, and no further scandals associated with him. He passed away on Valentine’s Day 2014 at the age of 85, with reported prophetic signs associated with his death.
Paul Cain had a ministry that purportedly involved prophetic words to world leaders. According to reports, among others, he had ministered privately to the last three or four US Presidents and he had recently been led supernaturally to meet Yasaar Arafat, the Palestinian leader at the time, to whom he delivered a private prophetic word. Less than a week after I shared about his life and ministry with my seminary class, he confessed to alcoholism and gay sex and stepped down from public ministry for a time.
There was controversy around the attempts to restore Paul among those delegated that responsibility and though Paul resumed his public ministry, neither his reputation nor his ministry was ever the same. He passed away, in 2019, at the age of 89 without seeing most of his major prophetic words regarding an End Times generation come to pass.
Kim Clement was also a charismatic, prolific and accurate prophetic voice from South Africa who ministered in Los Angeles for many years. As far as I know he had no scandal or immorality associated with his private life or personal ministry.
He died at the young age of 60 after he suffered brain bleeds as a result of a cancerous brain tumor which eventually resulted in complications of pneumonia. Clement may have been the first prophetic voice – or at least one of them – to predict that Donald Trump would be President and bring a restoration of the US economy with him, prophesying about him as early as 2005.
Clement died on November 23, 2016 after seeing the man he prophesied about become President but without seeing the full fulfillment of his prophecies.
Elijah And A Model For The Modern-Day Prophetic
When Elijah appears on the scene in 1 Kings 17 we have never seen nor heard of him before. We can surmise from Jame’s testimony in James 5:17 that he was a man with a nature like ours, fully human. But, Elijah became ‘righteous’ in practice – not just in ‘position’ or ‘theory’ – and God heard his prayer to both withhold and bring the rain.
James speaks of this kind of righteousness in his letter, saying, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).”
When Elijah stood before Ahab, the most wicked and evil King of Israel, whose wife was the pagan prophetess Jezebel, it is said of him: “Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word (1 Kings 17:1 NAS95) [emphasis ours].”
Elijah was saying that his word and God’s word was the same. This only occurs with a prophet who has stood before the ‘form’ of the Lord – like Moses. We addressed this phenomenon in Evaluating Prophets and Prophecy, and in An Open Letter on Prophecy To Ron Cantor.
Because Elijah’s word was the same as God’s, he fled from Ahab for three years around the nation of Israel while Ahab sought to kill him and Israel’s people suffered from drought and famine. He finally had to seek refuge outside of the nation itself. Why? The nation had become so unrighteous that there was no one righteous enough that he could trust not to betray him to the King of Israel. So he stayed with a widow beyond the border of Israel, in Zarephath of Sidon.
Eventually he confronted Jezebel’s prophets of Baal in a great battle and prayed for rain to again wash the nation of Israel. But, then fear overcame him and he ran away from God’s destiny for him.
‘It’s A Hard Thing’
Like the contemporary prophetic voices I illuminated above, Elijah failed to reach and to see the ultimate Divine purpose and goal. When he ran from Jezebel to Mount Carmel to seek the presence of God, God’s response to him at 1 Kings 19:9,13 was, “What are you doing here Elijah?”
Elijah had grown tired and weary and he made a fatal mistake. His mission was given to three men who would come after him (1 Kings 19:15-16): Hazael – an unbeliever, Jehu – who would become king in Ahab’s place, and Elisha – who would become prophet of Israel in Elijah’s place.
When the transfer of authority was to happen between Elijah and Elisha, Elisha was the only one among the sons of prophets who realized the significance of what was about to occur – that it was the day Elijah was to be taken up to heaven in a ‘chariot of fire.’ He refused to leave Elijah’s side and when he asked Elijah for the ‘inheritance’ of his ministry in 2 Kings 2:10 Elijah’s answer contains a lesson for the generations.
Here is the lesson. According to Elijah, “You have asked a hard thing.”
The Hebrew word translated ‘hard’ in 2 Kings 2:10 is ‘qa-sah’. It means ‘to be hard or cruel;’ ‘to be distressed’, or ‘in great difficulty of labor.’ It conjures up the picture of the woman struggling to give birth in Revelation 12 – and the dragon that seeks to prevent the birth.
Today, young and immature prophetic people – we, the spiritual children of the great men testified to above – don’t realize what we are asking or seeking. We have thought that it is all about the glory – the ‘signs and wonders’ and that it will be easy and glorious. But, it is not.
Moving into your highest destiny is fraught with distress, difficulty and many trials. Even if you reach the point where you refuse to leave ‘Elijah’s side’ and walk in your highest call the standard is high and the trials are ‘hard.’ You may end up ‘running from kings’ or ‘living with widows’ in refuge.
Since the 1980’s many of us have been ‘dashed on the rocks’ – but the ship we sailed in may or may not have survived. That is not important. We need to continue to honor those who have come before us and recognize the path of difficulty they have walked and seek to learn the hard lessons from their successes, difficulties and failures.