Welcome to the Holy Bickle Empire in south Kansas City.

Return Of The Prophets 

Welcome to the Holy Bickle Empire in south Kansas City.

Page 3 of 9

The Devil told Jones to escape and kill the people responsible for his hospitalization, Jones recalls. He cried out to God, who advised him to forgive them instead. Hospital doctors discharged Jones the next day, he claims, with orders to "get a low-pressure job and never drink again."

After his release, Jones began to have "visions and words spoken to him by the Lord," according to a 1989 Kansas City Fellowship newsletter. His life was a barrage of "open visions, audible voices, angelic appearances and demonic confrontations."

By the time Jones met Bickle in 1983, Jones believed himself to be a full-fledged prophet. Bickle soon received another blessing when a second prophet, Paul Cain, entered his life.

In 1929, an angel visited Cain's pregnant mother, who was dying of four diseases, says a 1989 article in the Kansas City Fellowship newsletter. "Be of good cheer," spoke the heavenly being. "You shall live and not die. The fruit of your womb shall be a male child. Name him Paul. He shall preach my gospel as did Apostle Paul of old."

After his birth, Cain's mother lived sixty more years, and as a young adult in the 1950s, Cain briefly made a name for himself as an evangelical preacher traveling around the United States and Europe with a 12,000-seat tent.

When Cain was in his early twenties, an angel dressed as a monk appeared in his car on a midnight drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The Lord was jealous of Cain's companions, the angel told him. Cain declared himself celibate after that, but in 1958 withdrew from ministry for 25 years. He took to the pulpit again in the late '70s, then joined Bickle and Jones at Kansas City Fellowship in the mid-'80s.

Bickle encouraged Jones, Cain and another man, John Paul Jackson, to prophesy before his congregation. Cain reported visions of a spiritual army rising up in Kansas City and a new breed of Christians who would perform miracles like those in the New Testament. Jones told graphic stories of terrifying journeys to heaven and hell.

Then in 1990, the Reverend Ernest Gruen, a pastor at the charismatic, non-denominational Full Faith Church of Love in Shawnee, Kansas, became fed up with what he believed to be false prophecies. He compiled a 130-page document full of transcriptions of KCF prophetic sessions. In one session, Jones had spoken of his descent through black smoke into the fiery bowels of hell, where he saw a former sinner's severed head swinging forlornly in a macramé basket.

"That's all he was," Jones told Bickle. "And over and over, through all eternity, that young man will say, 'But that priest said I was okay.'"

In another session at the church, Bickle had spoken of the night God pulled him to heaven through the roof of his Belton duplex. Also in the transcript, Bickle and Jones discussed Jones' ability to "smell sin," homosexuality, immorality and death because the Holy Spirit had turned his senses "golden."

Gruen was convinced that the Kansas City Prophets' visions were "from familiar spirits" and that Bickle's church was "close to becoming a charismatic heresy and a cult group."

A dozen local ministers jumped on the Bickle-bashing bandwagon, typing testimonial letters about church members traumatized by bizarre prophecies. For three years, Gruen criticized Bickle.

Then in 1993, Gruen suddenly backed off. Bickle and Gruen issued a joint statement that they had forgiven each other, according to a 1993 article in Charisma, a charismatic-Christian magazine. In the article, Bickle admitted that he had promoted mystical experiences in a "disproportionate" and "disastrous" way with an "elite" attitude.

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