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"I think I'm in a dream, but I'm really not," Bickle says on the CD. "The room was 30-feet cubed, and the floor, the ceiling, the walls all appear to be clouds. I'm to the left of God's audible, thunderous voice." According to Bickle, God repeated the same message three times: "Young man, if you are impatient, you will cause much harm and much turmoil to many people."
"This is real," Bickle says he told himself as he stood on the clouds. "I am not asleep. How did I get here? Where am I at?" Then the great cloud opened, and Bickle tumbled through the sky.
"I was going down real fast, passing the moon," Bickle says on the disc. He plummeted through the dark night, spiraled down toward his duplex in Belton and crashed through the ceiling. Sprawled on the bed, he glanced at the clock. It was 2:15 a.m. But God wasn't through with him yet.
"I went shooting straight up again, totally awake," Bickle continues on the CD. "I went right through the ceiling and was standing in that clouded room again." God thundered more divine advice at him before the human meteor zipped back down through the sky and again smashed through his duplex roof. Amazingly, no time had passed. The clock still read 2:15 a.m.
Bickle tells the Pitch that he has discussed that heavenly experience only a couple of times in public and that he clearly remembers God telling him, "Be patient, young man." Although Bickle tells that story on the Our Prophetic History CD, a big seller at the Forerunner Bookstore, that experience was for him, not others, he says, and it doesn't matter whether others believe it happened.
"I'm superaware that what I'm doing [at IHOP] would be odd to people from the outside looking in," Bickle says. "Any time people claim to hear God's voice, see an angel or cast out a demon, those are odd concepts."
It's Friday the 13th, the final night at Municipal. Worshippers have come from all over the world to learn how to set up prayer rooms like Bickle's in their cities. The seminars done, it's time for one last charismatic fling.
In the packed auditorium, the throng sings, two barefoot women shake tambourines with long streamers attached, and guitarists strum vigorously. Suddenly the music stops, and everyone holds the same note in unison for nearly a minute: Awmmmm. Pandemonium erupts as some in Joel's Army speak in tongues while others continue to hold the note.
It's not a stadium, but it's a start.