“I’m born again!”
It was 9:15 a.m. this past Friday morning, and I was comfortably ensconced in an easy chair in the lobby of the Branson, Missouri, Hampton Inn. I was minding my own business…reading my Bible. The man speaking towered over me announcing his spiritual state.
“I’m born again too,” I answered, looking up.
Diane, Annie and I had come to Branson for a 10 a.m. tour of the College of the Ozarks. Annie, our youngest as a high school junior, didn’t seem so young anymore. Anyway, I had finished first in the room and scooted out to give the ladies some space and get some time for myself.
“Praise God!” he responded, then pressed on: “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way…and few are those who find it!” Emphasis on few.
“Amen,” I agreed. Then I asked, “What brings you here?” I was looking to dial the conversation down a notch. Was he here for a show in Branson? (like surely so many others in the busy hotel that morning)
“I go where the Lord tells me. I wake up in the morning and follow his lead…The Muslims are taking over Europe.”
So much for dialing down. “Yes…the secular Europeans have stopped having babies. The Muslims haven’t. But the Spirit of God is moving in Islam all over the world.” I was trying to be hopeful here.
He agreed. “And do you know where they’re going next?”
I was glad to find out.
“Here.” He pointed at the ground. “Dearborn, Michigan…” and he named a few other places with large Muslim populations in the U.S.
“I walked into a Jehovah’s Witness church,” he continued (changing the subject?). “They were smiling at me. So friendly. Then I told them, ‘Did you know that Jehovah has come in the flesh?’ And they had daggers in their eyes…” That last line…came out slowly, melodramatically. You get the idea.
He proceeded to tell me about the rapture and being ready for the return of Christ. “They’re gonna be surprised. The trumpet is about to sound.” At one point he related a conversation with some “Mexicans” in a McDonald’s, and what did he say to them? “I’m sorry,” apparently apologizing, he explained…for Donald Trump! It was one of the strangest, weirdest, most interesting conversations I had ever had.
“I’m Roger,” I offered my hand, finally. “I’m Brother Michael,” He returned.
And then, shortly thereafter, apparently it was time for him to leave. “Stay on fire,” he told me. “Keep going deeper!” – his last words to me. But I heard him around the corner preaching to other guests in the hallway: “The trumpet is about to sound!”
10 minutes or so after the encounter I saw the hotel staff gathered for a debrief on this mysterious preacher who appeared and disappeared so quickly on their Friday morning. I got up from my chair and walked over to the three employees who included the hotel chief engineer (he had a badge), the front desk man, and the breakfast lady.
“Are you wondering about that man who showed up?” I asked them. Yes, they were – they needed a plan in the off chance he would come back. They were clearly a bit shell-shocked.
I told them what he had relayed to me: “Whenever people ask me to leave, I always do so immediately, and this always surprises them.” I thought he was sincere in this, and I imagined that if he did come back…and they asked him to leave…that is exactly what he would do.
Our meeting of four broke up, with the chief engineer getting the last word: “Nothing wrong with Jesus…but let’s not interrupt people’s coffee time shall we?”
But…I think I’ll beg to differ with the chief engineer. In fact, I would say that if some morning you are sipping coffee and eating waffles at a Hampton Inn, and a wild-eyed preacher comes up to you announcing his spiritual state…it’s probably worth interrupting your breakfast to hear what Brother Michael has to say.
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52 (ESV)