Thursday, June 2, 2016

Jim Bakker has it right: Pastors need to unite in Jesus' name

By Kevin Scott Collier

Jim Bakker, host of the popular Christian television program that bears his name, often speaks of how pastors need to stop trash talking one another and stand as one regarding the Holy Gospel, for the benefit of all in our nation during these end times.

If you are ignorant, you might imagine Bakker says this because of his downfall amid the PTL bankruptcy, and his subsequent prison sentence in 1989. But this far from the truth. If you need to know more about redemption and restoration, read about the life of Chuck Colson.

Bakker, who I have always had an affection for, whether in his good times or bad, shares a birthplace with me. He was born in Muskegon, Michigan, same as I. And while Pastor Jim is 17 years older than me, and departed Muskegon when I was 2, I grew up hearing about his beginnings in my hometown, and his early involvement in ministry. His parents, Raleigh and Furnia, lived at 1126 Chestnut Street, off Apple Avenue at one time. We often passed by their old home on the way to the original Collier house on Peck Street., a block away. My great great grandpa Collier, William, built the first home in Muskegon Heights in 1874.

During the worst days of the Depression, Jim’s parents and grandparents, along with other Christians, built and paid for a new church, The Central Assembly of God. It was a brutal era, both of my parents remembered well.

Jim Bakker's grandfather, Joe, was a reverend, and preached in the streets and bars of Muskegon, handing out religious tracts, trying to win souls for Jesus. Some thought Joe was more than a little eccentric, but it was his passion for the Holy Savior that motivated his bold approach.

Rev. Joe R. Bakker lived to the age of 89 when he passed away on December 4, 1967. He worked owned a celery farm in Zeeland for many decades and worked at Campbell, Wyant and Cannon Foundry in Muskegon for years, which was a few blocks from my childhood family home in Roosevelt Park. My grandfather Bill Hislop worked with Joe Bakker there in the late 1940's. I can still hear the trains at that foundry in the night air as a child when I fell to sleep at night.

I've visited Reverend Joe's grave on occasion, in Norton Cemetery, off Airport Road in Muskegon, a few times. Joe Bakker, born in Ottawa County, Michigan, on April 2, 1878 to Roelof (Ralph) and Aleida Bakker, didn't arrive into the world alone, as he had a twin sister, Jaaldert. Sadly, she died on November 7 that same year.

I have lived in Ottawa County since 1982, when I moved out of Muskegon, first settling in Nunica, then Grand Haven.

Joe Bakker was the type of pastor who would minister to prisoners in the Muskegon County jail. He didn't worry about going in the lion's den, getting his hands dirty, and was even punched a few times by God haters. From what my family recalled of him, he was a feisty man for Jesus, but he wasn't a divider, he was a uniter for Christ.

When I was growing up, WTLJ, a Christian UHF channel, operated out of the Occidental Hotel in downtown Muskegon, a stone’s throw from Furn and Raleigh’s house. I became interested in that little UHF channel, and would watch it.

When I was about 9, Bakker began working with Pat Robertson, and the rest is Christian TV history.

The man who likely is one of the easiest targets for God haters is the one trying to unite pastors of all denominations during end times. It’s one thing to be critical of those who are preaching a false gospel, it’s quite another to target those who are following the authority of Christ just because you don’t like them, for whatever reason.

As Bakker himself has said many times on his broadcast, “It’s time to stop it,” in regards to tearing down Christ loving, Gospel speaking pastors. Petty disagreements, jealousy, whatever divides you, let’s not let that overwhelm where you all stand with each other. And it’s time to take that common love for Christ and His Word and recognize what unites us all.

Bakker has it right. We are in end times, and with judgment day coming, Christians across our nation need brethren who will stand united. We all come from the same Creator. So, let’s recognize what we all share in common with Christ, instead of letting devils dictate division.

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