A Rich Ministry and a Mother’s Prayer

From a small town in Kansas I came to Stanford University in the early sixties. Naïve and ungrounded, I was coaxed and bullied out of my childhood faith, selling my birthright to experiment with drugs, travel with the famous, and get at the buzz of culture. I watched Stravinsky conduct and sat by the sea with Shankar as he played. I listened to Baez singing in the kitchen and chanted in a Buddhist monastery. I lived in a cave and built a cabin. I worked at Esalen and vacationed with the Jefferson Airplane. I studied tropical botany at the University of Hawaii, and I studied oil painting in Guadalajara. I traveled through Europe, played in a blues band, and got a degree in architecture from Stanford. I was empty. I had given up everything for nothing.

As I prepared to enter into a form of Gnostic sorcery, I surprised myself by asking God, “If you are real and not just some impersonal force, reveal Yourself.” I randomly picked a place on the map and took off. Three days later, through a strange course of events, I found myself in a meeting of the church in Los Angeles. I could never forget that meeting.

A month later, unaware that I was the prime subject of my mother’s prayer group, I picked up a Bible, seeking direction in my “spiritual journey”. As I read the first chapter of Isaiah, Jesus came into my heart: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me…Why should you be stricken anymore?…Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (1-18) In an instant my childhood faith returned. I felt clean and fresh and forgiven and so alive. As my confused mind argued, my heart wept with joy.

Now the real adventure began. The next three years were a strange journey through the menagerie of Christendom. I attended a modernist seminary and then a fundamentalist Bible college. I spoke in tongues with the Pentecostals and sat quietly with the Plymouth Brethren. And then I remembered the church in Los Angeles.

When I walked into my first meeting, there were over a thousand believers singing, “God eternal has a purpose” (Hymns, 1325) I would never be the same. No longer was I a Christian without a vision. Finally I had a clear direction. Soon I was married to a wonderful wife. Now four children, several businesses, and many years later, I am more excited than ever about God’s eternal purpose. I will be forever grateful for the rich, insightful, edifying ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee, as well as for a group of praying women in Kansas many years ago.

Tim English

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