We have been having a great time of refreshing with Pastor Richard Brooks preaching for us. There is a wonderful presence of God in the services with healings, words of knowledge and prophecies coming from the church folks. Last night Pastor Brooks shared with the congregation and visitors how he became a Christian. I’ll do my best to recap:
He was born in Bishop, California. Actually that is where the closest hospital was from Big Bear where he was raised on a cattle farm. He had a few church experiences as a young person but it was only after he got involved with drugs and the music scene as a young teenager did anything happen that touched him. It was when one of his drug buddies got saved, became a Christian, by asking Jesus to come into his heart. This wasn’t enough to bring him to Christ, but was something that stayed with him his whole life.
He was in that pattern of life moving from one relationship to the next, one binge with commitments to stop to the next, one job to the next, always with music desires on the horizon. This was all happening in an alternative universe we call Orange County. He was well connected with the party scene and at a private house party was listening to Bob Dylan play the piano. He went into the next room and began playing a guitar along with him so that he could tell everyone he jammed with Bob Dylan.
One day Bernie Leadon from the band, the Eagles, came and got him and brought him to church with him. This man had quit the band, this was just before Hotel California, because he knew the lifestyle wouldn’t allow for him to be a Christian. Richard went to a big church of over 800 people. He remembered seeing one woman raising her hand while they were singing. The preacher gave people an opportunity to come and pray but Richard, fought back the urge to go forward not wanting to be the only one. Bernie prayed with him that night when they went home.
Richard went to church, but no one would talk with him. He went 3 Sundays in a row. The fourth Sunday a friend came by and he missed church, the refrain of the sermon was “you don’t have to go to church every Sunday”. Well one Sunday missed was followed by another missed and before you know it the old life habits were getting control again of his life. So he turned his back on it all and found himself linked to an East Coast snob who was working with the CIA to infiltrate the drug smugglers in Columbia. He blessed Richard with a big satchel of cocaine and a man to do business with in Australia. What Richard did not know was that this Australian was already under surveillance and he was met at the airport by the police who put him in prison eventually with a 12 year sentence.
Sitting on the little bucket that they all had to share as a toilet he reminded himself: “you don’t have to go to church every Sunday”. He prayed, got a hold of a bible and began to devour it. He was exercising, walking back and forth in the yard, when he was spotted by a Christian man working at the prison. This man felt promised by God that something spiritual was going to happen in the prison. He secretly took Richard and laid hands on him and prayed that he would receive the Holy Ghost. That night Richard began to praise God speaking in other tongues in his cell. His cell mate got saved. Before you know it everyone was hearing about what was going on in the prison. God’s favor was being poured upon this group of believers in this prison. They were allowed to have bible studies. They were getting baptized in the bathtub. More and more inmates were getting saved. Richard had a bible and a book that was given to him by a American pastor in Australia who was visiting the brother of a girl who had got saved in his church. This book was called “The Open Door”. It was the story of our fellowship’s venture into overseas ministry.
After three years, Richard made the mistake of reading about and having a communion service with bread and water instead of bread and wine. The prison chaplains, who never appreciated his faith, accused him of administering the sacraments without being ordained. They began to work on the warden to have all the members of Richard’s group (church) split up into different prisons. Richard and the Chinese cook remained. Richard stayed because they didn’t know what to do with him; the Chinese cook because he was a gourmet cook who cooked for the warden. The reports started coming back to Richard of revival starting in each of the prisons where these men were sent to.
It was just after that that Richard was released and sent back to America. He went back to California and eventually found himself in a church with a halfway house. In 1989, as Richard was reading about the open door into Romania, he got the name of a translator from a Romanian church in LA and went to Romania. He was preaching at a time that would be unique for Romania. He was preaching to a group of about 300 people on the streets after playing his guitar. They all prayed. Then God spoke to him: Now what are you going to do with them. He went home sold everything he had to come back to Romania to start a church.
He abbreviated this portion of his testimony, maybe we will get more tonight, but he met and eventually married his wife, started a church with young people, met the author of the book “The Open Door” and was given some help and guidance. He was a great pastor, raising disciples, eventually sending out 10 other churches into Romania, Switzerland and the Ukraine.
Just a note: Wednesday night will be special as Richard has agreed to play the piano while he ministers to us. It is going to just be plain cool.