What is Banner Ministries?
This simple logo, produced with a pen and paper at my kitchen table, took me from a few amateurish leaflets in the early 80's to an internationally-known ministry in the 2000's. From simple black and white hand-written tracts, Banner Ministries progressed to a well-known newsletter, national meetings, trips abroad to participate with other like-minded ministries, and eventually a much-used website of discernment articles.
None of this can be attributed to myself, but all the glory goes to God
The name "Banner Ministries" and the logo details such as the cross, and the banner in the shape of the Name of Jesus, all came from the original call to service that I received in the early 1980's. From that time on, I was (as they say) in "fulltime ministry" researching, writing, speaking and organising on behalf of everything the Lord had shown me. I worked alone, but under the headship of my husband - I say that for those who care about these issues.
Back Up a Moment
The above abbreviated account doesn't tell the story of how Banner Ministries came about.
I can trace my concerns and my calling back to an incident in the 80's. The Jehovah's Witnesses had been going up and down our street, knocking at every door. I could see them from my window, gathering in a little group to pray, knocking on doors, speaking to anybody who was at home, and leaving literature for those who were not.
I prayed they would have no success. Then suddenly I felt such a deep disgust at this falsehood, and the potential to harm my neighbours that I began to pace up and down, asking the Lord over and over, "please use me Lord, please use me - I feel impotent to do anything about this!"
Not long afterwards, the church we attended began singing songs that I knew were biblically wrong - songs about dominion and being God's endtime army, and taking over the world 'for God'.
I came home and wrote down my thoughts, and some scriptures, and my first little leaflet was born: "Watch What You Sing". (I offered it to some at the church, but the Pastor was NOT amused, needless to say.)
Called to Service
A few leaflets later, I was getting my teeth into this.
I had a small manual typewriter that I used to produce the waxed templates for an old print machine. These were then used to produce (at very slow pace) printed copies on an old Gestetner machine in the shed of a friend. These old machines required hand-inking, hand-cranking, and special paper to print on.
The leaflets (about the New Age and similar topics) were well-received, but only amongst a few Christian friends. However, one elderly couple perked up when I said I wanted to produce a Newsletter - this idea was de rigueur at the time, and I was already receiving literature from a wide range of 'Mom & Pop' American Ministries, and a few English ones too, covering the same topics as myself.
Mainstream is Born
To cut a long tedious story down to size, out of a collaboration with this couple which included the generous gift of a huge commercial photocopier, I began to write and print a number of newsletters.
By this time I'd become the proud owner of the very first "personal computer" , the Amstrad PCW - its software was called Locoscript and was white text on a green screen. Therefore, all the illustrations for the newsletter were hand-drawn and stuck onto the master-copies.
This was a mainstream work for ordinary Christians, in ordinary lives.
Why the name 'Mainstream'
I prayed long and hard about the name for the Newsletter - now called a Magazine. Almost everybody else had named their ministry and their newsletter after themselves, the Joe Bloggs Ministry, the Jane Doe Newsletter, and so on. I felt that missed the mark, because this wasn't about ME, but God's word going out to those who needed it.
One day in prayer, I was saying "this isn't a denominational work, it's not a church work, it's not for special people, it's for the mainstream..." The word stuck in my consciousness, and seemed to cover all the bases.
But I'm getting ahead of myself again...
God Takes Full Charge
These things - the leaflets, the connections I'd made with others, the budding little magazine - had been set in place, but I really had no idea beyond their creation what God intended to do. How was I to reach anybody beyond my small circle?
At this time we used to have regular prayer sessions with a travelling minister who was renting a house nearby. We'd meet in our home to pray and talk and share. Looking back, he probably wanted us to support his ministry more than we did, and was dismayed at what followed - as you'll see.
One day we were praying as normal, and we all happened to be standing up to pray, almost in a row (like soldiers). Without any preamble, I had a VERY deep sense of the presence of the Lord, so much so that it made me start to tremble in awe. I didn't know if the two men could sense it also, I assumed they did.
I said nothing at all. I was just awed.
I'd never really known this before, but what I sensed was very real and very certain. Because the Lord seemed to be in that room, walking up and down this "row of soldiers" and He was "inspecting his troops" like a General, and assessing their hearts and lives and souls. It seemed as if God moved along the row and He looked at my husband, then he looked at our friend the Minister, then He looked at me.
It was my turn to be seen for who I was. He seemed to be able to look right through me, to look INTO MY HEART and to read what was written there, about my strengths and weaknesses, my character, my dedication to Him - everything!
I tell you, if you meet with God by His Spirit, you will not be the same, and you will lose all sense of pride before HIM. You will simply tremble. Everything is naked before His gaze, and nothing can be hidden when God looks at you! For God is a:
"Discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account". (Heb 4:12-13)
I can only know from what followed in the days and weeks to come, that God seemed to have a task, a service, a calling that He wanted to give, and He was looking to see who could carry this burden.
The Foundational Verse
Understandably shaken by this experience (in fact at the time I had to sit down because I was trembling so much), I spent the next few days praying about it. What happened was that the intensity of my desire to expose false teaching grew exponentially, yet I wasn't willing to launch out on my own - this had to be ALL OF GOD, or else it would be worthless.
So I kept laying it before God, and asking direction. One day I was kneeling in prayer and I saw (not as a vision, but given to me by God) a scene that summed up the state of the Church, and what had to happen. The picture was this:
I saw a battlefield, with hundreds of bewildered people - some soldiers, some civilians - milling around wounded and hurt and discouraged. I longed to help them. My attention was drawn to a small hill alongside the field. On the top was waving a battle banner, and the banner was at the same time the Name and the Cross of JESUS. If only the people could focus their attention on this Banner, and all look in the same direction, they would know where to go, how to regain their strength, how to find help! I should point them to Jesus, and His Word.
And so I was inspired to know that the main task (as of EVERY ministry) was to present to the confused and doubting people in the churches Jesus as the source of TRUTH, and LIFE and HOPE!
But HOW? Well never mind, leave that to God.
Almost immediately, being a classic Evangelical believer, I asked if God would confirm this impression I'd received, knowing that all things we receive must be tested by the WORD of God.
It was one of those times when the bible almost "falls open by itself" - but not literally, I hasten to add - however, I was very drawn to look at a certain passage of the bible and one of its verses became my foundational ministry verse. It was Isa 62:6-12:
I have set WATCHMEN on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.
The LORD has sworn by His right hand
And by the arm of His strength:
"Surely I will no longer give your grain
As food for your enemies;
And the sons of the foreigner shall not drink your new wine,
For which you have labored.
But those who have gathered it shall eat it,
And praise the LORD;
Those who have brought it together shall drink it in My holy courts.
Go through, go through the gates!
Prepare the way for the people;
Build up, Build up the highway!
Take out the stones,
Lift up a BANNER for the peoples.
Indeed the LORD has proclaimed
To the end of the world:
"Say to the daughter of Zion,
'Surely your salvation is coming;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.'"
And they shall call them The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the LORD;
And you shall be called Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.
A few days after, it was our regular prayer meeting once more, this time at the Minister's rented home. I tried to relate something of what the Lord had been doing in my life (but not the verse above). However, he seemed a bit peeved, almost dismissive - like, "It's ME who's the Minister here, what do you mean that God called YOU to do something?"
But then SOMETHING REMARKEABLE HAPPENED.
He - quite out of the blue and at random - opened his bible to prepare for our prayertime, and what did he read? The EXACT same passage that God had given to me earlier (as above.) I gasped. It was another confirmation.
Here is where the story needs to be speeded up to cover the next few years. Because not only did God open the doors to ministry, but He put more and more people in touch with me, and they all started asking for the leaflets and the Newsletter. In hardly any time I had a large mailing list, and more work than I could complete in a day. I was rushed off my feet answering phone calls, sending out literature, writing answers to letters (in the days before email) researching (at the Library, in the days before Google) and writing more and more studies.
Now having a professional photocopier, I could run off copies of the literature at home, although that work, and the mail-out it entailed, was growing day by day. I also started to produce a few cassette tapes to mail out, starting with a series about the Word of Faith Movement that I'd been rescued from. (See my testimony)
This scanned version of the basic header for "Mainstream" was produced on the Amstrad PCW. The single person canoe was to indicate that this was not a group ministry but the work of an individual under God. This canoe had to be paddled alone, upstream, which turned out to be tricky on occasions when other larger ministries wanted me to "jump aboard" the large flotilla of cruise liners with them
It seems incredible to me today, when I look back, to see the connections God was making between like-minded people in those days. From around 1982 various voices began to be heard in the Church, with a trumpet-blast of warning about false doctrine. I was one of them, and we all called ourselves WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS. (See again the verse above.)
Without really trying, I was in touch with men and women around the world, the majority of them just private individuals like myself, and many of them women working from home. Later some of them went on to have well-known ministries, but in those days it was just low-key.
(For instance, in those simpler times I used to chat to Dave Hunt, Yacov Prasch, Texe Marrs and Peter LaLonde on the phone. Tim LaHaye wrote me a personal letter asking me to do some research for his book, "No Fear of the Storm" and afterwards credited me in the foreword and sent me a signed copy, but I didn't really know him and had no idea he'd become a famous Christian author. He probably regrets asking me now LOL!)
I did a number of radio broadcasts for "Steel On Steel" (John Loeffler, then living in Denver), and through them was introduced to yet more Ministers in the same field.
Through these various God-given connections I was able to go to America several times in the 1990's to speak at Conferences with Dave Hunt, Jewel Van Der Merwe, Sarah Leslie, Mary Titeca, Constance Cumbey, Ed Tarkowski, Bill Randles, John Loeffler, Berit Kjos, John Zajak, Kathleen Hayes, Stuart Best and many others who are now leading lights of what has become the "Discernment Ministry". I also held a number of nationwide meetings here in the UK.
As if it was God's intention all along (and I believe it was) this work was in place and functioning, with a dedicated mailing list of followers, just before the madness of the "Toronto Blessing" broke out.
Indeed, I had my first heads-up moment BEFORE I realised what it was.
While enjoying the warm hospitality of Berit Kjos and her delightful husband, we watched a religious TV broadcast of a man called Rodney Howard Browne, then a new kid on the block, who was introducing something called the "Laughter Anointing".
Watching his antics I was alarmed, and intrigued to know more. Berit kindly made a tape of the show for me to take home with me. Playing it later, it made me shudder. Something about it creeped me out.
Little did I know, when I mentioned this man in my next Newsletter, that this was the leading edge of everything we know and see today in the false "Revival" churches!
Full Steam Ahead
From the official launch of the "Toronto Blessing" in 1993, our feet didn't touch the ground. We had been called for such a time as this!
All of us were plunged into a fierce spiritual battle, and into intensive research, and much hard work, to try and educate Christians to these new doctrines.
Largely due to the sterling work, knowledge, and input of Jewel Van Der Merwe (now Jewel Grewe) and her friendship at that time with Constance Cumbey (whose basement was a drool-worthy treasure-cave of information and data) I had come into an intimate knowledge of the Latter Rain and Sonship movements of the previous century. (Also see MSOG and KCP)
Briefly, I have to say that this history (which can be explored on the website in many articles) was definitely behind much of the emerging new doctrines, although at first many prominent Ministers rejected the whole idea (later to do a U-turn and write about it in full in their books.)
I need to bring this long story to an end. Throughout the 1990's I continued to produce the "Mainstream" magazine to an ever wider audience, to create teachings tapes, articles and then a website (which of course became the CROSS+WORD website.)
Things began to change, and the focus of the ministry began to be bible teaching, devotional work, and bible prophecy from around 2000. I was shown that "Mainstream" had served its purpose and just before that the task of sending out tapes and leaflets had come to an end. The world, the Church, and my life was changing.
In 2004 the website also was archived, so that I could move on to a new work. The Birthpangs website was then born.
This was because the work of the Watchmen was to sound the trumpet of warning. NOW that trumpet blast has sounded, and information is available everywhere on the Internet for those who are looking, much of it more up-to-date and better quality than mine could ever hope to be. I know that what the Lord called me to do, I have fulfilled to the best of my ability.