Church on the Highway
I was in my motor home behind the tent that hot August night of 1976 wringing out my clothes drenched with perspiration. The night air was filled with the blessed sounds of repentant souls weeping their way through to God. “You’ll not preach the cross of Jesus anymore like that before I kill you first” was another sound, which I recognized as the voice of the evil one.
It was near the close of a glorious three-week revival in Ocean Springs, Mississippi in which a brother Hobbs had come in to help for a few days. “That was the most powerful message about the cross of Jesus I’ve ever heard preached” was his kind comment. You learn to take your friends compliments graciously, they really do want to encourage you in their own kind and considerate way.
I was born in a Pentecostal church parsonage near Branch, Louisiana where my father pastored in 1940. I grew up a Pentecostal, was saved and filled with the Holy Ghost at an early age. I have always loved the gospel work and everything that it involves. I’ve preached on street corners, in auditoriums, churches, under large tents (I’ve owned several), in various denominations, on the airwaves, overseas and anywhere I can find an open door to tell people about our wonderful Jesus.
But this night in August of 1976 my skin seemed to crawl with awareness of an evil foreboding. I knew I was in for a fight somewhere, sooner or later, but I didn’t realize how soon. I closed out the meeting at the end of August and went back home to Alexandria, Louisiana and prepared to go to a minister’s conference in Birmingham, Alabama to which my wife and I were going to drive. A Sister Childs was to keep our six children in our home while we were gone.
Early in the morning of September third, we were all packed and ready to head out, when I noticed some glass jars on our concrete porch. During the previous night I had a dream in which I heard crashing and breaking glass. As I looked at those jars, I remembered the dream and asked that they be picked up to prevent kids running with them, falling and cutting themselves severely. Then with a quick prayer, kisses good-bye, off we hurried.
It had been drizzling rain all the way and I knew the roads were slippery as we left Meridian, Mississippi headed north. It was about forty-five minutes later near the little town of Epps, Alabama where we encountered a drunk driver, which subsequently caused a multi-car accident. My car spun out of control and was impacted on the passenger side by an on coming car driven by a Jehovah Witness minister, which I later found out to have a reputation among that sect as being one of the one hundred forty four thousand of Revelation, chapter fourteen. His wife was instantly killed and he sustained major leg breakage.
I was unconscious for only a moment. When I came to, there was blood all over my face and clothes. I quickly discovered that I was cut on the head and had trouble breathing as a result of three broken ribs. However, concerns quickly vanished when I regained conscience enough to see the condition of my wife. The ashtray was knocked out and her face was in it. I turned to her and said, “its ok honey”, trying to lift her head back. It was then that I realized she was struggling for life. Her teeth were clenched as she struggled to breathe. It was then that I was aware of the presence of the old serpent, the devil. He had indeed carried out his threat and struck with the lightening speed of a cobra.
I made her as comfortable as possible while her life was quickly slipping away. I got out of the car as the crowd gathered around to watch. I went to my knees in the tall, dirty, wet Johnson grass on the side of the highway. Never mind that I had on a brand new, expensive suit. It was time to call on Him that is able to save to the uttermost. A wail came out of me that was almost unearthly. I cried out unto the Lord and he heard my cry. When you are desperate for God, you care not who hears or sees, nor about your surroundings. I was desperate for the One whom I had loved for so many years. He was right there when I called.
The heavy, dark spiritual clouds that seem to hang so very low were instantly rolled away. Light began to shine down on my poor, bloody head, as a great love began to flood my soul for the couple that hit us. I didn’t know at the time of what religious persuasion they might be, if any. Great peace flooded my soul as I began speaking uncontrollably in a different language, which I had never spoken before. I seem to be possessed of a great power. I prayed for my poor wife and knew she would eventually be all right. I prayed for the other couple also. It was then that I discovered that she had been killed. Such love for them filled my soul. I would have gladly, at that time, traded places with my wife or either of the other couple.
While waiting on an ambulance which arrived about thirty minutes later, I tried to answer questions, which I did, partly in English and partly in a heavenly language. People could see a strange power on me. Though my body was on the ground, in the spirit I was somewhere in a heavenly realm. Though death and dying was all around me, there was a peace and a joy that did not come from me.
I have found that you do not have to fear death. When that hour draws near, there will be given you great grace and glory if you have placed your all in Him. I have learned that the grace and power of God to those that truly trusts Him, bears on demand. It is outside the realm of human manipulation. If burdens and life crises are too much for you, stretch out your hand as far as you can reach, then with your voice and all of your heart, call upon Him. It is His promise to save and deliver.
A little over an hour after the ambulance arrived, My wife, Mr. Mossor (the JW minister) and I arrived at the Rush Memorial Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi where there were a number of doctors waiting on the docks for us. Among them was a Dr. Lowery Rush, who was a world famous orthopedic surgeon. He invented the pin that is used in that type of surgery. It is known among those in the profession as the “Rush Pin”.
I heard them say, as I was wheeled by on a gurney on the way to be x-rayed, that they had lost the lady, meaning my wife. I prayed for my wife again and reassured them she would be all right. They pulled the sheet over her head and left her alone, but there was a great peace and joy in my heart. There was an overflowing love running out of me for everybody including the nurses, orderlies, doctors and everyone that I saw. After my x-rays were taken, they put me in a semi-private room, after which I fell asleep. I slept like a baby all night long.
The next morning I was awaken from sleep by two nurses that had an empty wheel chair and was told to get in it. A great feeling of guilt swept over me. How, oh how could I sleep, not knowing what condition my poor, poor wife was in? Just how could I do such a thing? I felt so low down and sorry. “A fine husband I am” I thought to myself.
“How is my wife”, I asked?
“We’ll go and see”, one answered.
With me in the wheel chair, down the long corridor we went, then into an elevator, out the elevator, a few turns and then down another corridor and one more turn, and there it was: the ICU. At least I knew she had to be alive to be in an ICU.
Doctor Rush had been there all night long with her. There was also Doctor Abangon, a neurosurgeon and a number of other doctors and a number of nurses which all gathered around me. First it was Doctor Rush that addressed me concerning my wife. I looked through the glass and could see that she was hooked up to everything you could imagine, life support systems and all.
Doctor Rush explained with x-rays that she had a broken hipbone, pelvic bone, broken shoulder, broken leg, on and on. All was in such a bad condition it was hard to work with it because of so many breaks. She had a ruptured spleen which had to be removed, a cut descending colon, a liver cut in two. On and on. He showed me a big thing about the size of plate on her left hip, though he gave it a technical name, appeared to be a big, thick blood blister.
Doctor Abangon then took over the briefing and explained the extent of brain damage the best that he could tell from tests. He said the concussion was so severe that it would not be unusual for one to never wake up, or if they did eventually awake, you may expect any number of serious problems. The briefing went on.
Finally, with doctors and nurses following I was wheeled to her bedside. As I looked at that precious, hard working mother of six beautiful children, faithful wife and soldier of the cross, I would have given all I had to be able to take her place. If only I could give her a great bouquet of roses, or just do anything for her, I would gladly do it. But, I felt so utterly helpless.
Well, there was one little thing I could do. I could sing her a song. Tears filled my eyes and began running down my face as I began singing very haltingly and trembling. “The great physician now is here, the sympathizing Jesus. He speaks our drooping heart to cheer, Oh hear the voice of Jesus. Sweetest note of seraph song, sweetest name on mortal tongue, sweetest carol ever sung. Jesus, precious Jesus” It was an old, old song which is never heard any more. Though I had not heard it for many years, the words came back to me perfectly. I had heard it sung when I was very young. It has since become my theme song during my healing meetings.
Nurses began to weep and doctors began to excuse themselves as their eyes began to swell with tears. All was aware of a great change in the atmosphere in that room. The power and glory of God in His radiant, soft, sweet way had swept in, putting us all in awe of his powerful presence.
We waited momentarily, gripped by such a holy hush. Then she moved. One nurse went to retrieve a doctor. Wonder gripped the hearts of the professional staff. What could be happening? Then her head turned in my direction, which was to her right. Doctors came trickling back in as everyone waited. Her eyes opened and looked straight at me.
“Rayford…” She then turned her head in the opposite direction as to be looking at someone standing to her left. We could see no one.
“Jesus,” she said once or twice.
Then turning to me she looked at me and said “Rayford, He is here.” We could not see, but we could sense his glorious presence.
Oh, dear readers, don’t you just love Jesus. Simply to breathe that Holy Name sounds as a clap of thunder in heaven. You have instant access to Him with His undivided attention. …by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God. (Phil. 4:6)
She looked that direction again and looked back to me and said, “He is so beautiful! He has on a long white robe with a golden belt about his waist. He laid his hand on me and said everything will be all right.” Needless to say there was a presence of power that shook the place, which was powerfully impacted on the staff present.
Miraculous changes in her body began to take place before our eyes and from that time forward. Good Doctor Rush wept openly when he inquired about our faith. He said that he was a quarterback on God’s team at the First Methodist Church in Meridian. He confessed as he sat on the edge of my wife’s bed, that he had witnessed so great a miracle such as never in his entire medical career. He declared that Marie was clinically dead when she arrived, as there was absolutely no sign of life at all.
The big blood blister, which Dr. Rush said that he would have to remove by surgery, to his utter amazement, had disappeared. Marie had soon gained her strength, and after a very few days began walking up and down the hallway giving God glory.
News of what happened soon spread through the hospital and I was called to go here and there to pray for the sick and dying. One dear man was placed in the CCU with a heart attack and not expected to live. After prayer, he was sent home the next day. “…and the power of the Lord was present to heal them” Luke 5:17.
One nurse while weeping said “you wanted to go to a meeting in Birmingham, but God knew that you were needed here”. It’s true, the need is everywhere. So many are suffering, sick, diseased, harassed, tormented and fettered by the devil. Jesus however, breaks every fetter.
Dear readers, do you have a cold dead religion? Do you attend a church where the power of the Lord is not present? Are there no miracles of salvation, healing and deliverance from the tormenting, vexation of the devil? Encourage others to join in with you in prayer and fasting believing God until there is a change in your church. This wonderful, power of the Lord is available for all that will only believe Him.
Fast and pray. Get some balm in your hands. Don’t be afraid to lay your hands on the sick or afflicted and command, “you foul devil of cancer come out NOW” Just stand in the place of Jesus, since he has gone away. Stand in His stead. That is what is meant by “in his Name”. Since He went away, he has turned the work he begun over to you and me. We pick up where He left off, going in His place, and continuing on in His will.
After a few more days allowing Marie to gain strength, Doctor Rush came back in and told us that there was no reason to keep us any longer that he was discharging her. I had already been discharged. He told her to check in with an orthopedic surgeon in Alexandria within a few days. She did, and the good doctor could not believe her story, but he would send off for the medical records and he would be in contact with her. He finally called a few days later in great astonishment inquiring how such a miracle could have happened. Marie was only happy to tell of the goodness of Jesus.
Oh, dear readers, do you know that goodness? He is sweeter than the honeycomb, fairer than the lily of rarest bloom. He is the giver of life and every good and perfect gift. He pleads for you with out-stretched hands, with eyes filled with more love than you could ever fathom. He cares for you. He refuses no one. Just look to Him both believing and expecting. He will never, ever disappoint you.
With Marie doing so well, I took the gospel tent to Columbia, Mississippi where I noticed something of a change in the ministry. I was not quite sure just what. I put the tent up in Crocket, Madisonville, Natchidoches, Orange and Beaumont, Texas. Along the way I noticed more people were being healed in a miraculous way. We headed up through Arkansas and back down through Louisiana. The healing waters seem to be flowing in ever increasing power and volume.
Whatever type of ministry you are in, you must start as a baby and grow in it. In the deliverance and healing ministry there are very few mentors or teachers that can, or is willing to help a willing and obedient novice. There is so much theology until you feel like choking, but where are the deliverers that know how to heal the sick and cast out the devil. They are almost non existent. In my travels I find a lot of young ministers that want to know more about these things, and call me aside to talk to them about the things of the supernatural. They are hungry. They have crunched the letter of the Word so much but know so little about how to draw the healing water from inside the Word.
I began sending out anointed prayer handkerchiefs according to Acts 19 and many diseases including cancer was reported to have gone. We saw the devil possessed in many cases instantly delivered. This happened first in Crocket, Texas when a young black man came forward and confessed that he had a devil and wanted to be free. The power of the Lord hit him in such a way you would have thought he had been launched backwards from the barrel of a cannon.. He flew backward through the air and slammed down flat of his back, instantly delivered. He soon came through talking in tongues as the Spirit of God gave him the utterance.
We moved the tent from one place to another but sometime we would be in an auditorium. I have found that many pastors are afraid of this type of ministry, for as many reasons as there are pastors. A book should be written on the subject. However, a ministry that will not bring the power of the Lord to the people, is not a Jesus ministry. They need to seek the Lord until they have it operating in their own ministries. Their saints are sick and suffering, plagued and harassed by the devil and there is little balm. It is sad enough to keep me in tears much of the time. Sometime there is plenty of balm but the good man knows not how to use it. After a little stir, he sends his listeners home after some singing, a good prayer, but undelivered.
To all my darling friends, I wish above all things that you would know that what he has done for others he will do for you too. See what the great Apostle Peter said about that as the Jewish brethren and he were amazed that the Holy Ghost would be poured out on the Gentiles as well as they from the beginning: Whether it be in regards to salvation or healing, God is no respecter of persons. He loves you so very much that your heart would explode with His love if you could perceive it in the least part:
“Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him,” Acts 10:34&35.
Let us earnestly contend for the FAITH once delivered unto the saints