As I was praying one morning, I slipped into a vision where I discovered I was in Fairbanks, Alaska. I can’t tell you how I knew I was in that location – I just knew. I had recently been to Anchorage to visit my daughter Anna. I had never been to Fairbanks. Now I was walking up and down city streets looking at the houses and roads and people. At the same time, I also knew I was on my prayer walk in Duluth. I seemed to be in two places at the same time.
After a bit of touring around Fairbanks, the scene changed. Now I was in a large conference room filled with pastors who were well dressed and taking notes of what I was telling them (like I could do that!). In the vision, I said,
“This is a sending place. The Gospel is to go out from here all over world, like Antioch of Acts 13. But you’ve stopped it up. You’ve traded away your calling in return for a comfortable life. You’ve forsaken your God-given destiny for a self-seeking alternative that has impoverished you. The Lord calls you to return to him, or as Judge I will come to you. But there remains in some a burden for the lost. Feel my heart and go. It is the last hour.”
There’s one more part to this vision. I was close to home now and as I rounded the corner to turn back onto the street where I live, I noticed an old VW Beetle parked right across from my house. As I got closer, maybe fifty feet away, I noticed it was a tan colored Bug with a huge box strapped down on the roof with personal belongings piled up. There was also a sticker on the box that said, ‘Fairbanks or Bust.’ I searched my memory if I should know someone from Alaska who would have wanted to visit me. I looked across the street now to check the traffic, being very close to the car and my house, and then turned back to the Bug. It had vanished!
The vision had me in its grip for quite some time. Everywhere I looked during that prayer time seemed like I was in Fairbanks. I could feel the place. The stir to go there was ignited. I knew God was sending me there with a message for pastors.
I notified my ministry buddy, Bob, about the morning’s happenings. I told him God was sending us to Fairbanks with a message for pastors and asked him to join me. I dragged him into this with me. And he came.
A few weeks later, we flew into Fairbanks. Prior to this, while in Anchorage, we had met a soldier stationed in Fairbanks and he invited us to hang out with him in his tiny apartment if we didn’t mind sleeping on the floor. We didn’t mind.
We found out there were 147 churches in Fairbanks. How are we going to speak to all these pastors? Why would they even listen to us? How long will this take? We had to start somewhere, so we visited the church our new host had been going to. The parking lot was empty except for the secretary’s car. We told her about this vision and that God wanted her pastor to know the message. She rolled her eyes (as politely as possible) and said, “I’ll let him know.” She didn’t seem overly excited. We left.
We stopped at another church a few blocks down the hill. The assistant pastor met us, we told him the vision and he stopped us and said, “I’m afraid I can’t help you with this.” At his suggestion, we drove to a radio station fifteen miles away in North Pole.
It was 38 degrees below zero and not a puff of wind. The air was smoky with wood stoves working hard as their trails barely rose out of their chimneys. We walk into this long log cabin which housed the radio station. Shortly we meet the station manager of KJNP. We liked him right away because he asked, “What are you boys up to?” with a little mischief in his eyes. He politely listened to our story but we couldn’t read him at all. Surprisingly, he paused and said, “Could you be back here at 8:00 in the morning?” We said we could. The next morning, we walked into the station and saw the manager in a glassed-in booth speaking into a microphone and motioning us to come in.
He hands me a mic, introduces us to his radio audience and invites us to share the story that brought us to Alaska. For the next 25 minutes, I described the vision as he interviewed us. After the program, he said, “That conversation just went throughout all the interior of Alaska, into Siberia and into Scandinavia. So maybe you got your room full of preachers right there and then.”
Later that evening I get a call from the secretary of the first church we had visited. She tells us, “Pastor wants you to come to the church service tomorrow morning and share your vision with the elders.” The next morning, we arrive at Door of Hope Church of Fairbanks. There were a couple hundred folks there.
We sat down in back. Midway through the service, Pastor comes to us and says, “We want you to share your message with the whole congregation.” I say, “No, no, no, no Pastor. You haven’t even heard this message yet. This is a reproof to your elders, not for everyone.” He said, “Nevertheless, we all want to hear it.” I swallowed hard and Bob and I went to the front, facing twelve elders standing there, as well as the whole congregation.
Pastor handed me the mic. I shot up a silent desperate prayer and managed to say, ”Hi,” and introduced ourselves. I related what had happened on my prayer walk back home and launched into the message of the prophetic word. There came a boldness to say what I had to say, not knowing anything about these people. “This is a sending place. The gospel is to go out from here all over the world, like Antioch of Acts 13. But you’ve stopped it up. You’ve traded away your calling to make yourselves comfortable. You’ve forsaken your God-given destiny for a self-seeking alternative that has impoverished you. Repent or else. But there remains in some of you a heart for the lost. Feel my heart and go. It is the last hour!”
To this I added, “Um, there is one more part to this vision: a VW Bug, tan, with Alaska plates and a massive box strapped onto the roof. On it was a sticker that said, ‘Fairbanks or Bust’, but I don’t know what that has to do with it.” For several seconds you could have heard a pin drop. The leader of the service didn’t know what to say. After the service was over, we spoke to a few elders afterwards and came home. We had finished our mission.
A few days later, my home phone rang. It was one of the elders from Fairbanks. He asked me to repeat the word I had given. I did. Then he asked, “Tell me about that car once more.” I said, “Oh, the VW Beetle. It was tan and had an enormous box on the top that said, ‘Fairbanks or Bust.’” There was a long pause. Then he said, “Years ago, my friend and I came up from Dartmouth College to move to Fairbanks to begin my career. We drove up in a tan VW Bug with a great big box strapped to the roof with a sticker that said, ‘Fairbanks or Bust.’ When you told that part of the vision, I knew God was talking to me! But here’s my situation: I’m so busy with my career I haven’t had time for the ministry I’m supposed to do. What should I do?” I knew that was between him and the Lord. What a glorious moment! For him and for me.
The takeaway –
1. God can speak through visions.
2. Give the vision a chance.
3. Be ‘dumb’ enough to step out into your vision.
4. Don’t omit part of the word just because you don’t understand it.
5. Trust God to open the right doors; He will.
6. Keep a humble heart.
7. Tremble before his written Word and before the prophetic word you are to speak, then let ‘er rip. It’s a sacred privilege and responsibility to be the mouthpiece of the Lord.
8. Be a servant to his Body.
9. Leave the results up to the Lord and follow his peace every step of the way.
10. Keep taking those prayer walks to give thanks to God – you just never know. . . .