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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Double Miracle

By Randal Ross with Scott Harrup
Aug. 10, 2014

I am a fourth-generation Pentecostal. My great-grandmother planted the first six Assemblies of God churches in southern Illinois. My parents were both ordained AG ministers.

Despite that heritage and my parents’ faithful example of godly living in our home, I began to doubt the existence of God and the divinity of Jesus Christ. By the time I was in high school, I was involved in drug use. At age 17, I left home and moved into an apartment.

My high school years were academically successful but filled with rebellion. When I graduated, the principal told me I would never be allowed back on school property again. I didn’t care. I was headed to Indiana University of Pennsylvania as a pre-med student, second in my class coming out of high school.

In college, my academics plummeted and my drug use soared. I was introduced to LSD, a drug I believe to be more deadly than heroin or cocaine or crack. With most drugs, when you’re stoned you know you’re stoned. With alcohol, when you’re drunk you know you’re drunk. But when you’re on LSD, your mind is bent; fantasy, often of a demonic nature, begins to look absolutely real.

Even regular drug users will avoid taking LSD more than once in a couple of weeks. The risk of permanent brain damage is too great. I began to take the drug every night.

My drug use pushed me deeper into spiritual rebellion. I dabbled in Zen Buddhism and then decided I was an atheist. I was not a polite, philosophical atheist interested in logically debating God’s existence. I was a rabid, bitter atheist who angrily blasphemed God.

I remember putting a cigarette on my head at a rooftop party. I blasphemed Christ’s name and dared Him to strike the cigarette on my head with lightning if He was real. Other students at the party, who knew me as “the Pentecostal kid,” cheered me on.

On another rooftop one day, I was high on LSD and convinced I could fly. I was getting ready to run off the roof, certainly to die and certainly to go to hell. As I was running, I clearly heard my mother’s voice say, “Randal, don’t do this.”

This was no hallucination. It was the Holy Spirit’s intervention, pure and simple. My mother had prayed for me throughout my years of rebellion. When I was still living with my parents in high school and would come home drunk, I would hear my mother praying so fervently for me that I would crawl into bed and put pillows over my head to shut out her pleas for my soul.

At the end of my first semester, I hit rock bottom. Finals week came, and I took multiple hits of LSD. By then, a number of my friends had even ended up in mental institutions or lost their lives doing what I was doing.

This time, the drug took hold of my mind in a way it had not before. I could not escape the hallucinations. I watched demons crawl out of the floor trying to pull me into hell. I saw ants coming out of my skin, and began to cut myself to get them out.

The next day at my biochemistry final, I couldn’t remember how to sign my name.

In desperation, I called my dad. He was directing the Teen Challenge center in Cleveland.

“Dad, I need to come home,” I pleaded.

In the past I had told my parents I hated them and that I would prove to them you don’t need Christ to get through life. I once told my mother in high school, to her face, that if she ever touched me again I would kill her.

Dad drove from Cleveland to pick me up. I was 110 pounds with hair to my waist. My room was filled with trash and decorated with occult symbols.

Dad cried when he saw me and the hell I had created for myself. Then he helped me to the van. I couldn’t walk on my own. I was practically mute. I didn’t want to tell Dad I was afraid to talk to anyone because I believed my voice would make their skin fall off.

Back home, I would stay in my room all day and wander the streets at night. Like Legion, the demoniac of the Gospels, I was angry and looking for a fight. I saw no future for myself. I believed I would never utter another coherent sentence.

The first miracle occurred on Christmas Eve.

It didn’t start out well. I refused to open gifts with the family. After they went to bed that night, I went down to the living room near midnight. I planned to kill myself. I put on a Jimi Hendrix record.

But instead of killing myself and hearing Hendrix’s guitar in my final moments, I heard the voice of God.

How could a drugged atheist hear the voice of God? God honored a lifetime of prayers from my parents and grandmother. He had placed a hedge of spiritual protection around me during all those years I was brought to church as a child.

In spite of everything I had denied, in spite of everything I had done to spit in God’s face, He still reached back to the foundation He had laid in my life.

God spoke to my heart: Randal, will you give Me another chance to show you who I am?

All I could think was, God wants to ask me for another chance? I’m supposed to ask God for another chance!

And God, who knows our every thought, spoke again so clearly to my heart: Son, You don’t know Me. Come to Me. Let Me show you who I am.

I knelt down at a chair in front of one of those 1970s aluminum trees as Christmas Eve shifted into Christmas.

“God,” I prayed, “if You are who You say You are, and You can do what You say You can do, show yourself now, or I have no reason to live.”

In that instant, my mind was restored. The walls stopped pulsing. The demons disappeared. Within 30 seconds, I went from death-row blown brain to speaking in tongues, filled with the Holy Spirit.

All I could think was, This is real!

When people hear me preach today, they know my key theme is how real Jesus is. I am not ashamed of Christ. I know in whom I have believed, and I am persuaded.

But Christmas Eve had a double miracle. I had only seen my half.

In time, with a call on my life to preach the gospel, I went to Central Bible College (AG) in Springfield, Mo. There, I met my wife. After Andrea and I graduated and married, we returned to Cleveland to begin our lives together in ministry.

Two years into our marriage, after an evening of sharing my testimony with a group of young people, Andrea said to me, “Randal, when was that?”

In all the years of our engagement and early marriage, I had never really told her my story in detail.

“Christmas Eve, midnight, 1970,” I answered.

Her face lit up. “I know what I was doing that night.”

Then she told me about her Christmas Eve that year. She was sitting in a little AG church in California for a midnight Christmas service. Out of the blue, the pastor told the young people in the audience he believed God wanted them to pray for their future spouses.

Andrea was dating another young man at the time. She realized she would not marry him. God led her to go to the lobby and told her to pray for her future husband.

With that revelation, I saw anew the sovereign hand of God in my feeble journey to Jesus. He had brought all the circumstances of my life together to give me the chance to truly know Him.

I can promise you, God is doing the same thing in your life. Whatever your heartache, whatever your circumstances, God would say to you what He said to me Christmas Eve 1970.

Come to Me. Let Me show you who I am.

How will you respond?

RANDAL ROSS is senior pastor of Calvary Church (AG) in Naperville, Ill.

SCOTT HARRUP is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.


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