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Elijah’s Mantle

If there ever was a place and people where blind faith never found agreeable soil, it was Missouri. Its title and motto, “The Show Me State,” described Missourians’ character and point of view.

Though hesitant to commit themselves to hasty allegiances, Missourians, once committed, never let go, bulldog fashion. The buckle of the Bible Belt, Missouri shone brightest (no pun intended), in some people’s opinion, for the capital, Springfield,, was the site of some of the most thriving and free Pentecostal movements in the whole country, chief among them Brad Bright’s Bible Prophecy Church.

Mighty signs and wonders (miracles of healing and deliverance, new toes and feet where there had been none, straight-jacketed schizophrenics utterly cured, and even raisings from the dead, were expected in Missourian Pentecostal circles to flow out of legitimate ministries) abounded.

Faith and zeal abounded in the Show Me State in those golden revival days. And the faithful acted like they truly believed the 1960s were the End-Times, with the world poised to unleash all its armed might in the titanic clashes of the war of the Age.

Brad’s daddy, Brad Bright Sr., was the best preacher, best pastor, best evangelist, best miracle-worker, and all round man of God that his son could hope to find. He exercised the five-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit, and afflicted people present were always known to be set free of demonic possession, or long-time, incurable illness or paralysis, including cancers and brain tumors, in his meetings. His daddy had, joined with other men of God, established thriving Bible schools, chuches and campground facilities from Missouri to Canada and South Carolina and even Haiti.

His daddy was ever eager, in fact, to be of service helping others establish their ministries and turn their dreams into reality. That was what Brad Jr. admired so much about his daddy—he was that rare breed of a man, a man who thought first of others’ interests, and lastly of himself. That drew men to him.

They knew Brad Bright would be there for them, when they needed him.

It could be 3 a.m., but the call would come and his daddy would cheerfully get up and help out whoever it was, or pray with that person on the phone until the answer was received in the Spirit. Whatever it took, his daddy was always there for people in their pressing need.

Brad Jr. couldn’t ever remember resenting it, that other folks claimed so much of his daddy, for whenever possible his daddy used him in the ministry. He couldn’t remember when he wasn’t actively involved, whether taking the printed meeting programs around, or standing at the door greeting folks as they came in, or running last minute errands for his daddy, whatever a body could do at his age, he did it! It was a great life, being the son of such a great man of God as Brad Bright!

He would listen at meetings to his daddy, standing tall, manly, with his thick dark hair shining above his fearless, weathered features (the Brights were more than quarter Cherokee, on both sides of the family), preach against “man made religion” and “denominational shackles” cutting off the miracle power of God in people’s lives and then hear people either snort in defiance and stalk out or declare, "That man is a prophet!”

Truly, Brad Bright had put his finger on the dead pulse of religion in America, and then been so brave as to declare the plain truth right to people’s faces: “You’re dead in your denominationalism, my friends! The conniving, old Jezebel spirit has got your manhood and rules everything you say and do! Rise, walk, and be set free, by the resurrection power of the Risen Christ!”

Overwhelmed as a boy by a particular message by his daddy calling American Christians to give up their chief idol, the golden calf of denominational religion, he had gone forward with a throng of weeping people at a meeting in the Springfield campground five miles north of the city. He had truly repented of his own man-made religion and idolatry and cast it from him like a dirty rag. When he did that, confessing his sin to God Almighty, his face pressed into the sawdust of the tent, he felt a flood of such joy and release he felt as if he were being lifted in angels' golden wings toward heaven!

What liberty! What release from the grave of religious bondage! It was indescribable. At that meeting, when he had died to his old self and become a New Creature in Christ by surrendering his life, Brad Jr. went out of there a changed young man, determined to fight the forces of Baal and stand up to the Jezebel spirit ruling in the modern church. Until then he had been a dutiful son. After that he was a friend and co-laborer with Brad Bright the Prophet and Man of God! It was wonderful, this change and the new life that came with it. He was determined never to turn back by falling under the sway of either unbelief or dead religion, having experienced the true anointing of Holy Ghost fire upon his life. He wanted absolutely everything God had planned for him. Absolutely everything! That meant more to him, indeed, than life itself.

Driving home one night after a most fruitful youth evangelism meeting in eastern Missouri (his spirit rejoicing in the dozen or more young people saved and filled with the Holy Ghost as he laid hands on them), he began to doze at the wheel of his Chevy truck.

Suddenly, he felt a cold draught as if the window had been wrenched open. Icy fingers gripped his throat as if to choke him. He desperately tried to wake out of the nightmare—and just as his eyes opened he saw something—it was a spirit, dark and full of the most hellish hatred for him-—and his blood froze in his veins. Paralyzed by the presence of the thing, he couldn’t turn the wheel and left the road as it dipped into a stream bed channel to cross a W.P.A. bridge and struck a big oak just to the side of the bridge abutment that wouldn’t budge an inch even for a truck going fifty miles an hour.

He had wanted more than anything—and told his daddy, mother, and sisters—to be a prophet. But those snowy-white, golden-tinged angels’ wings had proved just too eager to be put off any longer, it seemed, and they had swept him away. It was all over at nineteen years of age, far as his life on earth was concerned. Or had Brad’s hand somehow caught Elijah’s mantle at the terminal “Z-Point” of contact with the river oak? Was his prophetic career just beginning? Was that horrible image of a dark phantom the spirit Jezebel his daddy had exposed in the church and preached against? It had flashed in triumph before his dying eyes as if he was never going to rise again. But he knew differently. Was this the very thing he would be called to combat in the spirit?

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