Intimidation on Every Side

I have been in situations like this. When I first began traveling, I was asked to help a church that had lost its pastor. It was in a small town of eight hundred people in the middle of nowhere. After two services every teenager there had repented and experienced the power of God, as had many adults. Because of what God was doing, the attendance doubled to almost one hundred. My wife and I felt such compassion for these people that we offered to cancel our next six weeks of meetings and stay to build a strong foundation in this church to prepare it for a new pastor.

Some people on the board didn't like what I preached. One man was upset because when he came into the third service, all the teenagers were sitting on the front two rows of the church where he and his wife normally sat. Previously, these young men and women had sat in the very back of the church.

Others felt I ministered too strongly. The bottom line was that the men on the board wanted to control me. They wanted to run the church their way. After several meetings with them I finally said, "I will be the one in authority for the six weeks I am here, and then your new pastor will take over. This is the only way it will work. You decide."

The day they were to give me their decision I had a call from a local drug pusher whose wife was attending the meetings. She had confessed to him she was committing adultery with his best friend. He decided to take his frustration out on me and the church. He told me he was going to cause trouble that night.

I didn't pay much attention to his threat. A few hours later one of the board members who was supportive of us informed me this man had called him and threatened to bomb the meeting. I told the board member, "Call the police and ask them to look into it."

A few hours later I received a call from the police. An officer said, "Mr. Bevere, please come down to the station and sign this document to get a warrant for this man's arrest."

I said, "Officer, I don't want to see this man arrested. He is hurting. All I am asking for is a little protection tonight outside the building."

He said, "My shift ends in four hours, and the nearest police station is thirty-five miles away. They won't be able to send anyone tonight."

I answered, "I still don't want the man arrested."

The officer questioned me: "Mr. Bevere, how long have you lived here?"

I told him I didn't live in that town.

He said, "Mr. Bevere, I know this man. He has a reputation in these parts. He is a suspected drug runner. If he has a few beers, I wouldn't put anything past him."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The police were saying this man was dangerous, so I knew he must really be. But I still felt no release to sign the warrant request. So I refused, then thanked the officer.

I was not only dealing with this man's threats but also the problems with the board. I thought, This is ridiculous. This board is giving me a hard time. They don't want me here. Now my family and I are being threatened by a madman.

Everything in me wanted to shake the dust off my feet and get my family out of town before sundown. If I had not known God had sent me, I would have left for the sake of my family. However, my heart wouldn't allow me to go for three reasons: First, God had sent me, and I hadn't heard Him tell me to leave. Second, I did not want to abandon all those who had been touched. And third, if you run once because of intimidation, it is easier to run the next time.

I had the mind of the Lord and decided to stay, if that was what the board agreed to. I prayed all that afternoon. It was one of the strongest times of prayer I have ever had. The gift of God was strengthened in me. I was ready for the evening.

But when I got to the church, I learned that I would not be staying. The board had met just before the service was to start. One of the deacons informed me that they had voted that I should leave. The service that night would be my last.

I was grieved, but I determined to focus simply on what God wanted to do for the people that night. I preached a powerful message, and the power of God hit so strongly that people were all over the floor. Many who were backslidden gave their lives to the Lord. The man who made the threat didn't even show up. At the end of the service I had to announce that the board did not want me to stay. An outcry went up among the people. I had not come to bring division, so I felt at peace about leaving.

A week later that same board elected a pastor who was later discovered to be a homosexual. They went through four pastors in the next year. The spirit of intimidation that was at work in that church board caused serious destruction to that congregation.

Used with Permission. Bevere, John. Breaking Intidimation. Lake Mary: Charisma House, 1995, p. 189-192.

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