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I don’t recall exactly how it started or when the decisive moment was. I do not know how I got to the point of being so deeply entrenched in apostasy and deception. I can not definitively point to one moment pand declare that that is when the deception began and my destructive course was charted. I simply don’t know. What I do know is that I was convinced. I was convinced of my being on the right path. I was one of God’s chosen, His elite, His enlightened ones. “Get into the River” was our mantra and our manifesto.
In my home church they called us the River People, and I was hopelessly immersed. Those that loved me enough had tried to warn me. However, I did not want to listen to those I perceived as being beneath me spiritually. They simply did not understand the river’s flow, I reasoned. No, I wanted nothing to do with their life-vests; I was happy being adrift.
In the beginning, I was deeply involved in a Large Pentecostal Church in town. I sang on the worship team and also sang for a small- start Vineyard church in the same city. There were whisperings at that time of a movement in Toronto, a “blessing” of epic proportion; or so I thought. Toronto was only a few hours drive from my city and so it began. We would pile into cars like hungry pilgrims and make the frequent trek to Toronto. In the winter we would brace against the cold in our heavy coats not complaining about the long lines and torturous waiting. There was always someone that we knew who was going. There was always someone we knew coming back. The returning pilgrims would laugh, jerk, and shout. They seemed only too eager to impart their “fresh fire” to anyone who would stand still long enough to have hands laid on them. Those that did not understand we scoffed at. They did not want the things of God as we did. We were special.
Things began to change in my church. A split began to form. They called us the “river people” we called them religious zealots who refused to let loose of the old wine skins. There were long ministry times at the altar at every service complete with violent jerking, animal sounds, shouting, laughing and vibrating. Then there were those long periods of “soaking” which we fondly referred to as “carpet time.”
The “Old Wineskins” of our church did not like the constant emphasis on the supernatural. However, we felt above reproach never realizing that sliding underneath it all with stealth precision was the sin that was now running unchecked through the church. Scandal ensued and the ministry team split.
I remember the first time I read anything from Rick Joyner. I was in a church pew and my pastor’s wife handed me a dog-eared, photocopied chapter from Rick Joyner’s, “The Hoards of Hell are Marching.” She was enchanted by it. “It is the most wonderful, most anointed, most inspired thing you will ever read,” she gushed. Far from the most anointed thing I had ever read, I regarded it as the rantings of a lunatic. However, it had soon circulated the church and had won the hearts and captured the attention of those I deeply respected. They thought this man was a true prophet.
The chaotic crumbling of a once mighty church disturbed me beyond words. The church was in its death throes and the sounds of her slow and arduous death rattle had replaced the raucous party atmosphere we had grown so depend on. I needed the fix that the “river” provided and I knew I would have to go where I felt it might be moving. I packed a small suitcase and hitched a ride with a friend who happened to be going to Charlotte, North Carolina. This was to begin a dizzying spiral decent into darkness and deception. Deception so sly and insidious it would take 15 long years to recover and find the truth.
In Charlotte, my faith was sorely tested. I was a Canadian with no legal right to work in the United States and nowhere to live. I found out very quickly that I could not rent an apartment or get a bank account without an American job, license, or social security number. I had left Canada with only a small suitcase. The friend I was with had been born in the States and was able to get a job and secure an apartment for us. I slept on the hardwood floor in her living room, and she on the floor in her bedroom. I had a thin cotton sheet to cover myself with but rarely slept. I was frightened and worried. Even though our apartment was nice, we did not realize that we were in a bad part of town. We heard gunshots at night, and heard horrific screams the night our upstairs neighbor got her throat slit. It seemed so surreal – like a nightmare I could not wake up from. I did not know then, but my money supply was soon to be exhausted. I would be there six long months, living from a small suitcase, sleeping on the floor, before I would obtain a U.S. work visa.
I had only been in Charlotte a short while before tracking down and attending MorningStar. I will never forget it. When I got to the entrance door I started to shake. I was trembling from head to foot and could not talk. I remember one of the greeters asking me if I was alright. I tried to talk but could not. “It’s the Glory,” one of the church members cooed, firmly pushing me through the doors. The church was in a warehouse off Pressley Road in Charlotte. There were chairs set up and also round tables lining the walls off to the side. People milled about in the back drinking coffee and browsing the bookstore. They were mostly young people in wrinkled, unkempt clothing. It had a hippie- modern grunge feel. It was evident that many of them had not washed for the occasion, or for any occasion in a very long while. Strangely enough, it did not seem odd that there were barely-sober homeless people lolling on the floor in the back drinking coffee. They seemed to blend and homogenize themselves into the atmosphere there. It almost seemed normal, like what you would expect to see there. I was both appalled and intrigued by it all. The commotion and carnival atmosphere was like a train wreck that you could not for the life of you, pull your eyes from. I had the feeling I had entered through the looking glass and nothing would ever be the same again.
Noise and confusion were everywhere. It was before service and the place was literally in an uproar. People rushed to and fro, running and throwing things and laughing. Some sat at tables trying desperately to talk above the din while others had food spread out enjoying a meal before service. When the music started it was reminiscent of an outdoor rock concert. No one sang but the performers. Many had arms raised, their hands snaking through the air like Indian belly dancers, eyes closed in complete abandoned ecstasy. I was uncomfortable.
Surely it must be me, I kept thinking. I mean after all- what makes me think that all of these people are wrong. That would make my pastor and friends and everyone I love and respect wrong too! No, that is not possible- it must be me. Sensing my inner struggle a woman beside me told me I would get used to it. “You are not used to being in this level of anointing” she yelled above the pulsating music. I told her it felt foreign to me- wrong even- but she admonished me and told me to relax into it. I waited for the preaching; there was none. No Bible, no scripture, nothing but dreams and visions and what God was showing Rick Joyner.
When the service was over the woman leaned over to me and told me to go forward to get a number for the prophetic booths. The booths were a regular part of every service and I came to depend on this. If I was struggling, needed an answer, or just needed a lift I would go into one of the booths and have the prophetic team prophesy over me. In time I would be on the prophetic team and prophesy over others in the services and conferences. It was not long before the prophetic ministry replaced my reading of scripture and study. I did not need to read the scriptures; I was always told everything I needed to know through prophesy. No one talked about the Bible or even brought one to the service. Certainly I never saw anyone actually read or preach from one.
Although I feel certain that in all the time I spent there, I must have seen one of two people carry a Bible, there is one time in particular that I can clearly recall. A visitor had brought it; a small framed, nicely dressed man, who looked to me to be quite innocuous. He had it open on his lap and was reading it silently. Suddenly two of the ushers came rushing down the hall and standing one on each side, strong armed him out the door. He asked what he had done but his pleas were to no avail. It left me unsettled but I reasoned it away. After all, this man must have done something to deserve removal. In thinking about it now, it is curious to me that no one had a problem with the homeless drunks coming to drink coffee and loll on the floors, or even with the witches that seemed magnetically drawn to the services, but a man reading his Bible threatened them.
Rick Joyner seemed pleased that the witches were there and we were told to make them feel welcome. The witches need to hear about Jesus. While that was certainly true, the message of the gospel was not being preached. No true disciple of the occult would feel comfortable enough in a church where the true Gospel was being preached, to come back week after week with no conversion.
Joyner made it plain to us that he was not in the business of casting out demons. In fact, in one service he told us he did not want us going to him for prayer. “It is not my job to cast out your demons” he said to an incredulous audience “In fact; I like to keep a few demons in people to keep things interesting.” Years later I asked a friend of mine who had made it out of Morningstar if he remembered Rick saying that to us. “Yes” he said, “I remember it well.” He paused and thoughtfully added, “What was wrong with us?”
After my first summer at MorningStar I enrolled in their ministry school. As Joyner was quick to point out, it was not a Bible school per se. The emphasis was on prophesy, dreams, visions, and the supernatural. We were being trained for the coming harvest and what Joyner referred to as the coming civil war in the church. He was quick to tell us that we represented the blues. Like the ocean and the sky, blue stood for revelation and expanse, spiritual enlightenment, and openness of spirit. We were special, a new breed. We were Joel’s army who would go forth victoriously to build the kingdom of heaven on earth.
The grays were spoken of with disdain and derision. Gray represented the brain and those who lived in their minds without regard to the higher life of the spirit. The grays were the legalists, the old wineskins, those seeking to trap and keep God in a box. They were painted as the staunch, stuffed and sterile church that had long since faded into antiquity and outlived their usefulness. It seems to me, looking back, that anyone that opposed Joyner and his teachings was considered a gray and not open to the “moving of the spirit.” The grays, Joyner was quick to tell us would be overcome and destroyed in the fight for the “true” church to evolve to the next level. Of course, in his estimation, the grays would not go quietly into that good night so it might be necessary for us to assist God in finishing up the job. Let me put that in plain English. We would help God kill them. Looking back, it should have been all too clear to me but it wasn’t.
The atmosphere at MorningStar was more like a crack house than a church with stupefied trance-like zombies bouncing to the pulsating music, not caring what was being fed to them. It felt good- it made us high and anesthetized us to the pain of anything unpleasant. In this world, we were special, separated, called. There was no sin discussed here, only visions of the glorious “lands” we would take for Christ.
The prophesies we received were always positive and we were instructed to only prophesy positive things over others. As part of the prophetic team we did not even ask if one was saved before prophesying over them. Indeed, it did not matter, for this was what came to be known as “prophetic evangelism.” We were encouraged to prophesy over strangers in the street and market-place and many did. It amounted to fortune telling and the accuracy was often chilling. Often I would shock myself as I would accurately tell things to strangers that I had no earthy way of knowing. However, even back then, there were things that bothered me about the constant emphasis on the prophetic. It started with an incident that happened while working the prophetic booth for a conference in Charlotte. A young lady came in and sat before us in the booth. There were usually three of us to a booth who would prophesy in turn. One of the three would always be a team leader. In this case my team leader was an instructor at School of Ministry. While we were prophesying over her I saw something ominous. I knew that we were to speak positive and encouraging things and I started to wrestle over what I should do. I felt responsible to warn her of what I had seen and pray with her. She left and the instructor turned to me and said, “What is it?” I told him what I had seen and he nodded his head saying, “Yes, that is correct, I saw the same thing.” I pleaded with him saying “We have to tell her and pray with her- this is not right!” He responded that we were to speak only positive and encouraging words. I reasoned with him that it would be a positive word if we saved her from harm, but he would not be moved. I reluctantly obeyed, but in my mind a curtain had been pulled back and I began to question. Did I have a gift? Was this gift truly from God? If this gift was from God, was this the way He wanted me to use it? What if the gift was not from God? What if I had been engaging in soul reading or fortune telling? I believed in the gifts of the Spirit but something suddenly felt very wrong.
The people in the church, and the throngs of people who streamed into the conferences depended on prophesy. They gushed and cooed over it and it was the topic of almost every conversation. If it would have been possible to stand silent in the crowd and listen, the words “Rick said” would have been sprinkled into almost every conversation. We did not read and study to show ourselves approved but depended on the extra-biblical revelations and prognostications of others we deemed as more spiritual. The same people were in the prophetic booths week after week after week and most of their lives, including mine, were shipwrecked beyond repair. I felt like a pod; like everything of substance had been suctioned out of me and I was left a lifeless shell with hollow eyes. I could feel myself staring out from the emptiness. I needed the next fix; the next prophesy or trance producing worship session to feel something-anything. It became obscene to listen to them prophesy that I would stand before Kings and conquer nations, when my life had spiraled into such abject ruin and despair. Had I missed God? Had I done something to displease Him? Why had He forsaken me? I was not quite ready to make the connection yet between my poor spiritual health and my steady diet of false doctrine and fluff. After all, I had such an “intimate” relationship with God surely he would tell me or send someone to prophesy over me if I was on the right path. Wouldn’t He?
Intimacy seemed to be the buzzword at Morningstar. Holiness and standards were not preached. We left that to the grays. Intimacy was all we enlightened blues needed and we were encouraged to pursue it with passion. One would hope that such an “intimate” relationship with God would tend to make us better people. After all, hanging around with “greatness” in the natural world tends to produce greatness. We rise or fall to the level of our associations. Would we not expect to see this all the more so in the supernatural realm? If we do in fact rise or fall to the level of our associations, then what would we expect to see from those who “hang out” with God? It is ironic that the very people who had the deepest “intimacy” with God were the ones whose lives were so out of control. They could “touch the heavens” and “bring down God” but they could not balance a check-book or keep a job.
Morningstar was in fact, rife with those who either would not work, or could not keep a job. Although there were exceptions, most people lived in self-induced poverty. Many would claim that God had told them not to get a job and to live in faith. Many simply were waiting for “their ministry” to materialize. Visions of grandeur had been prophesied over them so many times that lowering themselves to packing groceries or being someone’s secretary seemed beneath them. They had bought the lie. Everyone had a shingle out so to speak, advertising their ministry for any who would listen. Some had primitive business cards, while others presented a more professional front and started websites. I ran across one of these sites recently and saw a woman I recognized offering to prophesy over people for a “donation.” It brought a rush of sadness.
There were a few who had arrived at MorningStar in good financial shape but it never lasted. I watched one woman blow her savings of over a hundred thousand dollars flying from conference to conference buying books and tapes. She refused to work insisting that God had told her not to. She went through her money in short order and was left penniless. Refusing to admit her folly she slid into depression demanding to know why God had allowed this to happen to her.
I knew another lady who was on the “healing” team. Her refusal to work resulted in homelessness. She slept in her car and lived off the kindness of strangers. She showered at the house of a friend of mine who eventually took her in. However, my friend was raising three children on her own and could not afford another mouth to feed. Evidently, this once homeless woman had no intention of finding work and preferred to live from the handouts of others. She insisted that she was in full time ministry and that God wanted her to live in faith. I wish I could tell you that these were isolated cases but they were not. Unfortunately, I could write of dozens more.
Of course the people who worked for the ministry were barely better off than those who would not work. Joyner was proud of telling people that he did not pay his workers enough to live. Most of the workers received minimum wage. They were told they needed to suffer for the ministry, sacrifice and trust God. They exploited their workers and treated them poorly. They also exploited the students who did everything from moving them to painting their personal houses, convincing them they were ministering unto the Lord.
Many of the students spent a great deal of time downtown in what is now known as the NoDa Arts District in Charlotte. Although it has been cleaned up considerably and is now an expensive and trendy place to live, it was far from desirable in the late 90’s. A few alternative type galleries had store space among the old abandoned and decaying buildings, simply because rent was cheap. On Friday evenings these small galleries would hold “Art Crawls” for those brave enough to visit the area after dark. Gunshots were common. Someone had started a Coffeehouse in one of the old corner buildings and it quickly became the favored hang-out among the students and 30-something crowd from MorningStar. It was common to see the young people from the church drinking, smoking and groping one another on North Davidson Street. However, to say all behaved this way would be grossly unfair. There were some who truly loved God and wanted to please Him. They never lasted though. MorningStar’s door seems to be a giant churning, turn-style. The broken, empty and disillusioned leaving on one side, and the bright-eyed, initiates coming in the other.
Interestingly enough, the wife of one of the worship leaders worked down there. She was an attractive and unique young lady, whom Rick had called out on many occasions as being a gifted prophetess. It was evident that she had most certainly won the favor of the ministry. Her husband was gifted and I have always believed his music sprung from a true relationship with God. When a dispute over promised music royalties ensued, and this young man’s wife took a stand, Rick publicly disgraced her. He called her out publicly, labeled her a witch, and forbid anyone from the ministry to fellowship with her in any fashion. This included frequenting the coffee house. Oddly enough, she was the darling of the ministry while she was compliant, and was not called a witch until after a disagreement with Rick. Exposing as witches, those who were non-compliant was not uncommon. It was usually the ones who had been praised and held up as an example before the congregation just a short while before. In my mind this made Joyner look foolish. He was the great and terrible Oz kicking at Toto so as not to reveal the man behind the curtain. Of course once the curtain is pulled back, what do you do with the revelation? Reality is bitter, especially when one wants so desperately to believe. Do you pretend you haven’t seen? I did.
Part III The Moravian Falls Project:
When I arrived at MorningStar in the 90’s the fellowship was abuzz with talk of a prophetic retreat being built in the rural North Carolina Mountains. It was spoken of often by Joyner and his sentiments about the project were openly shared. It was affectionately referred to by Joyner as “The Moravian Falls Project.” He had purchased 400 acres of rural mountain property near the whistle-stop village of Moravian Falls which he claimed possessed a unique spiritual destiny. Joyner had a fascination and love for the Moravians and the area had distinct historical value. According to Joyner, the rural community of Moravian Falls had been an epicenter for Moravian newspaper publishing in the area. Their local paper had reportedly been called “The Morning Star.” Naturally this was a sign from God for Rick.
Although I digress, I must assert the fact that for Joyner and his followers, everything was a sign from God. I can still vividly remember Robin McMillan, a member of the MorningStar leadership team, picking up trash from the street, on his way to a meeting. I remember sitting there incredulous as he held up each item of trash and told us its’ prophetic interpretation. In the mind-bending environment cultivated by the experience-seeking MorningStar crowd, everything became a sign. Seeing leaves blowing in the wind might be a sign that God wanted us to turn over a new leaf. Finding a penny in the street might cause us to believe it was time for change. We lived like this! Of course, when you are living in the Land of Oz, seeing colored horses or tiny men singing Ooompah, is not at all strange. What is common place in your environment is never viewed as peculiar. This is why women stay with their abusive husbands and why we choose to stay with abusive ministries. I was terrified that now, having discovered that the Great and terrible Oz was just an illusion, I might in time discover that God Himself was an illusion. If I left the false to find the God of the Bible, would I in turn find just another man behind another curtain? It was tyranny of the familiar. The tyranny that you “know” is always less frightening than the tyranny of the unknown.
Joyner was very adamant that God had instructed him to build the Moravian Falls Project. He stated publicly on several occasions that he had been told by God to construct it out of quality material and craftsmanship because it “had to last.” In Joyner’s mind all signs had pointed to confirmation of these instructions. One of these confirming signs was the fact that the area had been the focus of the longest running court battle in United States history. The Moravians, who had settled there, had wanted the land deeded to God. . Whether this is true or not, I do not know. However, the fact that Joyner attached special significance to this land is unquestionable.
The retreat was to be a place where the misunderstood prophetic community could gather and be fed and restored. One of the aspects most often talked about was the 24 hr worship center where they planned to offer non-stop worship “before the Lord” twenty- four hours a day. There would be lots where people could live full time and also cottages where people could come for “a season” to be refreshed and restored. Rick petitioned donations from his Charlotte fellowship, from his Morningstar conference attendees, and from his international base of supporters. “I go to prepare a place for you” Rick would say, and we would smile and clap. This vision of a prophetic utopian community was certainly no secret. He talked about it frequently and openly. Many people were eager to give towards, and invest in, the vision for this community, trusting that Joyner would do as he said.
Many people from MorningStar bought land for personal homes in the area while others bought land to develop and sell as lots. The land prices in this small farming community sky-rocketed. However, the locals were not happy. The land was being priced out of reach for most locals and whisperings of MorningStar’s mysticism made this highly conservative church-going community nervous. MorningStar’s later refusal to pay land taxes did nothing to help the way most locals viewed this “ministry.”
Male students from the ministry school were often petitioned to go and help “Build the Kingdom.” Those with carpentry or painting skills were especially “encouraged.” Pleas for hands-on help were often given to the Charlotte fellowship and there seemed to be a steady stream of people going up and coming back from the mountains to help. There was no remuneration. They were expected to serve, and many starry eyed students were happy to do so, gushing over the fact that they were helping Rick. If Joyner had “need” of them they were happy to serve, whatever the personal cost might be. There were murmurings and mumblings among the ranks of those returning; however, it was difficult to get anyone to speak openly about “The Project.” No one wanted speak against the Lord’s “anointed” or question Rick. I remember once asking one of the men who had been there and he quickly changed the subject. The curiosity was too much for me – I had to know.
I asked several people where Moravian Falls was located and how I would get there but was always met with the same response. It was in fact very difficult to find unless you knew the area and knew exactly where to go. It was well over an hours drive and getting directions from anyone was near impossible. I soon discovered that few people in the Charlotte fellowship even knew how to get there and the amount of people who had been was, in fact, very small. This was curious to me considering the fact that it was being built as a public retreat and funds for the project were being raised on an ongoing basis.
It was almost a year later that I finally made it to the area. A sister church of the Charlotte fellowship was holding a women’s conference at Apple Lodge in Moravian Falls. I thought of it as the perfect opportunity to see this mystical land that they claimed held such infinite spiritual energy. When I saw “The Moravian Falls Project” my jaw dropped. There was nothing there. I could not believe it I could see Rick Joyner’s home, another personal home on the property and a privately owned lodge. That was it. All the talk, all the hype, and there was nothing there. Nothing! I was unconvinced, and kept asking others where it was. Even though I was seeing it with my own eyes, I was slow to believe. I had been told it existed so many times that not even the facts could convince me it was not true.
Apple Lodge was always spoken about as if it was part of the “Moravian Falls Project” but in actuality it was independently owned by Harry and Louise Bizzell. They were a pleasant couple, who were well spoken and had an unusual mixture of worldly sophistication and down home Southern hospitality. Harry was a kindly man with warm eyes and voice that inspired trust. Louise was a perfect hostess whose cooking would leave you talking for days. They had built a breathtakingly beautiful bed and breakfast type lodge on Apple Hill which was open to the public. Listen to Rick Joyner as he explains how both he and the Bizzells came to live in Moravian Falls.
“A couple of weeks after I met Bob Jones, I received a call from him. He told me that the Lord had called me to “the mountains of North Carolina” and that he had seen the place that I was to go in a dream. Having been told myself to go to the mountains of North Carolina, but seemingly not being able to get past Charlotte, I was more than a little interested in this dream.
Bob went on to say that I was called to a place that was 100 miles from where I was (The Lamb’s Chapel) and 40 miles from the Tennessee border. To get to this land we would have to go almost due North on a major highway (which turned out to be Interstate 77) and then west on another highway (which was US 421). He then described the property itself, saying there was a mountain overseeing the property that had a rock face, and there was a beacon on another mountain close by that could be seen from the property. He said that the gospel would go out to the world from that mountain. He said the land was measured from oak trees to white rocks, and there was a red roofed building in the middle. I asked Bob if the red roof could be a rusted tin roof, and he said that he thought it could be.
……I immediately told Harry Bizzell about the dream that Bob had. Harry was excited about this dream, but for me, not him. He and Louise were sure that their destiny was in Charlotte and that they would not leave their present location at The Lamb’s Chapel. As Harry was telling me this, I looked at the picture hanging above him, and I suddenly felt a prophetic anointing. The picture was of a chair that I recognized in the Bizzell’s back yard, but it had mountains in the background. I asked Harry who had painted the picture. He said that his sister had painted it in their backyard and gave it to them as a gift. I then asked why she put mountains in it, and there was a heavy presence that seemed to engulf us both. I could tell Harry felt it too, but he was adamant that they were not supposed to leave Charlotte. I disagreed, but knew the Lord would have to persuade the Bizzells.
Soon after this the Lord spoke to me and said that Harry and Louise’s destiny in the mountains was so crucial that it actually held “life and death consequences” for their family. I felt a terrible burden from the Lord about this, but I did not feel that I could share this with the Bizzells without it really seeming manipulative. Even so, I knew I had to share it with them for their sakes. I was very clumsy when I shared this burden with them, but they took it very graciously but still remained adamant that they were called to Charlotte. I felt that I had done all that I could and would not say anything else, even though the burden did not go away…..
As I mentioned, I had been compelled to share a warning with Harry and Louise Bizzells that their calling to move to Moravian Falls was so important that it held “life and death consequences for their family.” A few months later, Harry accompanied me to Kansas City where we spent some time with Bob Jones. When praying for Harry and Louise, Bob saw a death in the family coming before the Bizzells moved into their purpose. Harry and I assumed this would be his mother, who was very old and was advancing into senility. This was sadly not the case. Not long after this, Harry and Louise’s young granddaughter died in a tragic car accident.
…..I was shown that Spicer had prayed and offered herself for the purposes of God, even to the taking of her life. She had done this with great sincerity, and in heaven she is a martyr who lay down her life for the purposes of the Lord. Spicer Wallace did not die in vain, and she has a great investment in her family’s destiny and in the Moravian Falls project. Soon after her death, the Bizzells, who had land in Moravian Falls, were living there preceding me by several years.
So, in essence, the Bizzells did not feel that they were to be involved in the “Project.” However, Rick warned them that their move to Moravian Falls was in fact the will of God and their disobedience held life or death consequences for both them and their family! When their grand-daughter subsequently dies in a car accident Rick states that God had revealed to him that Spicer had offered herself to God making her a martyr and her death an investment into the destiny of “The Project”
It is also interesting to note that Joyner speaks of another man in connection with the “Project” who was supposedly punished for his disobedience. This man’s name was Tom Hess who ran a ministry entitled The House of Prayer for All Nations, near the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. According to Joyner, this man had been given a few tracts of US land that he had been instructed (by the donor) to use for a “prophetic” purpose. One of the tracts of land just happened to be in Moravian Falls. Hess met with his board and it was decided that they would give Joyner a 99 yr lease on the property for $1.00 a yr. However, Joyner had apparently been warned by the Lord to not accept anything with strings attached and so he declined their offer. Joyner said that donations for Hess’s ministry immediately dried up. Paul Cain, who Joyner insisted did not know anything about the situation, later prophesied to Hess that he had some land that had a prophetic destiny and that this land was being wrongly tied up. Cain relates to Hess that God showed him that he needs to give the land back to those who had given it to him in order to avoid the Lord’s judgment on his ministry. As Joyner tells it, Hess immediately started receiving donations again once he released the land.
It is curious to me that Paul Cain believed that God would judge this man for not giving land freely to Joyner, while he himself was actively involved in homosexual activity and an alcoholic lifestyle. In this strange world I was a part of, you can openly see what sorts of things brought the greatest punishment.
Louise and Harry Bizzell were never officially a part of MorningStar and yet Joyner says that they helped lay the foundation. The Bizzels had built their lodge in the middle of an apple orchard in the mountains of Moravian Falls; an orchard which, according to legend, was planted by Johnny Appleseed. A ridge of land ran above the property owned by the Bizzells and Joyner’s first purchase here was this 46 acres tract as well as a small cabin below the ridge. It was in this cabin that Joyner penned his mystical New Age epic “The Final Quest.” As an interesting side note, I remember being in a service in which Joyner spoke fondly of the cabin and the spiritually active environment there. He added that he no longer let any one else use the cabin because they were polluting the atmosphere and interfering with the spiritual activity. It had struck me as such an odd thing to say.
After getting over the initial shock of learning that the only thing the Moravian Falls Project consisted of was Joyner’s Personal House, the Bizzells privately owned house, and their Apple Hill Lodge, I settled in for the conference. I must admit that the conference was not my motivation in going. I had started to question and research vehemently. However, I had been so steeped in the mysticism and aberrant doctrine of this movement that it was difficult to let go of the ideas and beliefs that had obtained such tenacious stronghold in my mind. Before leaving Canada, I had gone to two colleges and had also obtained a university degree from a prestigious, world class institution. Now, I found it hard to even think my own thoughts in a logical and coherent manner. Every thing was a sign and a symbol, even a fortune cookie could be seen as a message from God in my world. What had happened to me? My mind had truly been made over and perverted by the garbage I was ingesting. Fortunately, my heart was not totally corrupt and there was still a small ember of desire for the true and living God. I thank God that in Isa 42:3 (KJV) He Promises that,
“A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”
If the flame is still lit, no matter how diffused and ineffective, He will not quench it, but thoughtfully and lovingly watch over it, tend it, and protect it until the flame can once again burn with intensity. That is what God did for me. He protected that small smoldering ember inside me, and he tended it until I reached a time where I could receive His Truth. He was faithful to me, even when I was not faithful to Him.
I can not remember much about the conference at Apple Lodge but one experience is indelibly etched in my memory. It was a warm sunny day and the mountains looked intoxicatingly beautiful and inviting. A group of ladies were lying on the lawn. I can not quite recall what we were doing out there, but I do remember us holding hands and praying at one point. However, after the prayers, some of us had dropped to the grass and were just lazing around, watching the clouds and enjoying the fresh mountain air. Suddenly, I became aware of the gurgling of a mountain stream. It was unmistakable and I listened with my eyes closed, smiling, and thinking about how refreshing it sounded. I don’t remember how long I stayed like that, eyes closed, listening, but eventually I looked over at a friend and said, “Let’s find it!” She looked at me bewildered and asked me what I meant. I told her I was referring to the brook or stream I was hearing. She shook her head and said, “There is no stream here.” I looked at her like she had just grown a third eye. There most certainly was a stream because I was listening to it. “LISTEN,” I said, raising my voice a little higher than I had anticipated. She smiled, closed her eyes again, and said nothing. Now I was angry. “I know you hear that. If you don’t want to go then I will go alone, but don’t pretend that you don’t hear it!” To my complete annoyance she said nothing, but got up and walked to another group of women. Within earshot of everyone, she said, “Tell her there is no stream here.” They laughed and nodded their heads vigorously, “Nope- no stream here.” I got up, brushed the grass and leaves from my clothing, and started to walk away. “Go find the elusive stream”, they taunted, “Let us know where it is!” How dare they mock me! I stopped in the grass and listened not knowing what direction to go. “What’s wrong”, they shouted. I did not respond. I couldn’t hear it anymore and confusion was starting to envelop me. I went back to the spot where I had been laying and listened intently, but there was nothing; nothing but the sounds of birds and insects and leaves blowing in the crisp mountain breeze. I looked at the women pleadingly. Their mocking turned to understanding and they one after the other, explained to me that I was having a supernatural experience. There is no stream, and they reassured me by telling me this had happened to others. Somehow it did not reassure me. It bothered me on a very deep level. It also spoke a truth to my heart in a deeply penetrative way.
I had spent a great portion of my spiritual life chasing after what I had heard. In fact, it was a very common thing in the circles I moved, for people to ask me what I was hearing. They asked me the question and I in turn asked others. When we wanted direction, or confirmation, we asked those we felt were gifted prophetically “what they were hearing.” In fact, I still occasionally have people talk to me about personal things and ask me. what I am hearing. It is as if they feel that I can hear from God for them and give them direction, or interpret their dreams. My response now to all who would ask, is to seek God on your own behalf, read His word, sit under Godly counsel, and hear God for yourself! It is not that I feel that God can not speak through me, or through anyone in fact, that has submitted their life to Him and is saturated in His Word. However, I refuse to be a fortune- teller or someone else’s connection to a God they are not willing to seek and truly know for themselves.
The experience with the water showed me that I could not trust what I was hearing. It may have sounded good, it may have sounded appealing, it may have sounded right, and it most certainly had sounded real, but it was an illusion. Just as the vivid dreams that populate our sleep in the night’s long hours, dissipate with the morning light, it too dissipated with the dawn of reasoning. Light does that.
Although this was my first experience with hearing things that did not exist in the natural, it would not be my last. It was only a few months later that I was in a prayer meeting at an associated church in Pineville, North Carolina, and again heard the gurgling of water. It was an infinitesimal church and on this occasion there were only four or five of us present. I got up, mentioning to them that I was going to check the bathrooms. It sounded as if someone had left a tap on. The few who were there remarked that they had not heard anything, but I was undeterred. Like the earlier experience in the mountains, the sound stopped when I tried to find the source.
In another experience around this same time, I heard a bell ringing. Lest you think that perhaps I was simply having auditory hallucinations, let me assure you that the bell ringing incident was heard by at least two other people.
However, the strangest incident by far, happened in my home. It occurred in my first year at MorningStar and left me very shaken. I had moved to a nice house near Fort-Mill South Carolina, near the old Heritage USA site. I had a house-mate who had left to go to Florida for a few days. She had a regular routine when she came in and it seldom, if ever, varied. I would hear her car crunching up the gravel driveway; footsteps on the porch, her keys jingle in the lock, and hear her call for her dog in a sing-song voice. She did this every evening. On this particular evening, I had a friend over and we were chatting in the other end of the house. We heard my house-mate’s car on the gravel drive, heard her foot-steps on the porch, the jingle of her keys in the lock, and her familiar sing- song voice calling for her dog. Her dog tore across the house barking wildly, and my friend and I jumped up and scurried through the kitchen to welcome her home. There was no one there.
The dog was upset now and barking incessantly. I reached for the door, thinking she had gone out to get her suitcase from the car, but the door was still locked. I flipped the latch, opened the door, and looked out in the driveway; but neither my house-mate, nor her car, were anywhere to be seen. I turned to my visiting friend who by this time had a confused and almost frightened look on his face. He walked outside, looked around the house then stood on the porch staring blankly into the darkness.
“Where could she have gone that fast” I finally stammered. He turned to me with the oddest look on his face and said, “I don’t think she was ever here.” I laughed at him not even willing to entertain the idea. Even the dog was still looking for her, and her voice had been so unmistakably clear! Fear, confusion, and a sense of defilement washed over me. I turned to my friend and asked him if I was crazy. I could feel the prick of tears as I started reaching frantically in my mind for an explanation, any explanation! I had heard the car, I had heard the keys, I had heard the door open, and I had heard her call for her dog. My friend, looking downward, eyes to the floor, whispered haltingly, “I heard it, you heard it, the dog heard it, something or someone was here.”
My house-mate called several hours later. I asked her where she was and if she had been home earlier that evening. She said no, that she was still in Florida and would not be home for another day or so. She asked me why I would ask such a thing. I did not want to upset her, so I said that there was no reason, and told her to have a safe trip back.
I can not explain why I had these strange experiences or why I had any of the other unexplainable phenomena that seemed to happen so frequently in this river I was now submerged in. Unfortunately, these auditory experiences were far less troubling then the ones I was soon to have. However, they did start to open my eyes to the fact that simply believing something to be true did not make it so. Deception at this level was possible, even for someone who loved the Lord and considered herself sincere. I may have been sincere, but unfortunately I was sincerely wrong. This “River” I had so enthusiastically waded into years earlier, had deceived me. It was now more like a stagnant pond, bubbling in its own putrid filth. I wanted out.