Paranormal Convention Comes to Town
CilCon is an annual paranormal, horror, anime, and gaming convention held at the Cross County Mall in Mattoon, Illinois. Like many shopping centers in rural America, this mall is facing hard times, with half the stores vacant. The mall often hosts events like flea markets or auto shows that bring vendors and foot traffic. But there isn’t any event in Mattoon quite like CilCon.
Perhaps 30 vendors lined the halls, including gypsies, psychics/mediums, horror show/reality TV personalities, authors, several paranormal investigation teams, arts and craft dealers, holistic medicine, comic book authors, and gamers.
Months ago, I had reserved a booth to promote my forthcoming spiritual house cleansing book and the seers website; but when I realized the book wouldn’t be out, I decided to convert the booth to one focused on demonstrating the Kingdom of God – praying and prophesying for people.
We went disguised, however, so we could relate to the people who would show up. For instance, instead of “prophetic encouragement”, I offered “spiritual readings.”
The Kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in Power.
Some people might take an exception with Christians going “undercover” in an environment that promotes the Kingdom of Darkness for the purposes of evangelism. Well, in my society, most Christians are both undercover every day and they never evangelize at all, so their objection doesn’t really hold much water.
I strongly felt this event should not come to my town without representatives and ambassadors of King Jesus present to demonstrate the Kingdom with love and power.
This is the fifth annual CilCon convention, and each year, I have arranged for nearby Vineyard churches to send prayer teams.
Although I had planned several weeks ahead of time, some communications breakdowns caused challenges in staffing. In addition, on Monday and Tuesday, my basement flooded with more water than we’ve ever had in 12 years of living there. A heavy rainstorm had hit, and a blockage in the city caused severe backup in the drain pipe that impacted our whole block. We lost our furnace/air conditioner blower and the hot water heater. As a result, we have been staying with my parents until they are replaced. These and other situations led to major distractions leading up to the event, but I had my intercessory prayer team covering us.
The Vineyard Church in Urbana provided three A-frame signs: “Kingdom Healing”, “Spiritual Readings”, and “Dream Interpretation.”
The entire mall was basically full of booths, and we were positioned essentially in a corner, by one of the mall entrances, and near the restrooms. Across from us were a couple of witches selling their wares. To the left, were some Catholics selling paranormal-related items. To our right was a paranormal investigation team from Lafayette, Indiana. Next to them was another paranormal investigation team from Kentucky. They both were selling some items as well.
I moved our table out of the way, and positioned our A-Frames around a couple of chairs,… the “hot seats.”
Friday afternoon, my daughter Annelise and I met David and John from the Urbana Vineyard (where my family attends). David and John are both bold extroverts, and just went at it. As people walked by, they gathered them in, offering the “readings” and prayer and preached the gospel.
I’m not exaggerating. John showed someone God’s heart, and then asked if she wanted to give Jesus her life. She said she didn’t think so. John wondered if he pushed too hard, and I said not at all. We’re not promised results. We just obey the Lord and in this case, we are planting seeds.
Imagine if God brings a bunch of other Christians to this woman, who all confess Jesus loves her, she might get the idea that God is after her. We are just one part in this woman’s journey.
Some people came by with pain or inquired how much the “readings” or healings cost. Annelise quickly made a sign that said “free” and that made a lot of difference.
Some people, after giving the most accurate “reading” they ever had, asked why we weren’t charging money. I said, “Freely we have received, and freely we give. God’s love is free to you. Our sins are paid for, so look to Jesus!”
We ministered God’s love to dozens of people.
One lady came for prayer for her aching feet. We sat her down and commanded the pain to go away. When she stood up, the pain had gone from a 6 level to a 4, so we prayed again.
The second time, the pain was gone and she had tingling in her feet. She couldn’t believe it! She was so excited.
Her friend became excited too, and she also asked for prayer for back pain, which left immediately. I told her to move around and test it, and she said it was gone!
We told them how much Jesus loved them, and they left with a bounce in their steps.
A dour lady came over for back pain prayer. My daughter told me she had spirits all over her. We prayed but her back pain didn’t go away.
A day later, however, she came back and said, while her back still hurt, her attitude had changed completely. She had felt so negative, but now she had such joy! I simply replied, “God really loves you!”
The guys boldly spoke God’s love and destiny in so many people; it was awesome. Many who came by simply did not want to leave. They felt loved, and sought direction. A few asked which church we went to, and if they could come too.
I remember when David was giving a “reading” to someone, God’s power breathed so strongly on the prophetic word that it hit me too. The person receiving it was shocked and moved but the power and love.
We all had Chinese dinner together, and ended up leaving at about 8, as the foot traffic had died down.
I was up at 4 a.m. for a work assignment, but made it to the mall around 11 or so. I knew I’d be alone for a couple of hours.
Immediately, a tall guy whom I could only describe as Goth came up. He asked for a reading, and I recognized he was testing me.
He had yellow and red eyes. I suppose they were contact lenses, but it was a little disconcerting as he stared directly at me with a blank affect. Then I spoke God’s destiny for him and he was visibly taken aback but quickly recovered.
When I was done, he said he was trying to not “give” me anything, because he goes to a lot of these conventions and a lot of “readers” will simply look for visual cues, but he wanted a true spiritual reading. He said mine was one of the most accurate he ever received, although I’m certain he’d never had someone profess God’s heart towards him at a reading.
I told him what I told everyone: “Here’s how it works. I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what the Father has for you. Sometimes we hear accurately and sometimes we get it wrong, but the Father really does love you and wants good things for you.”
We spoke quite a long time about these things. Usually after a reading, these people let me pray for them in Jesus’ name.
In a few cases, the arms of the people we prayed for went up in praise. Yes… many of these people had been Christ followers at one time, and they heard the Father calling them back.
Many came by and simply asked what we were doing, and I explained that Jesus is Lord and he really wants people to know God loves them, and we were there to declare it.
A bunch of people came up, and the introvert in me wore down quickly. On Saturday, I wasn’t as active as David and John were in engaging people the night before.
I texted my wife how tired I was and then Danelle and her husband John (a different John) came in early, and I was so relieved!
Danelle and John are from the Charleston Vineyard. After they settled in, Danelle offered to pray for someone, and said, “Holy Spirit, come!” and the power and presence of God physically came. The air became electric and people started to flock to our booth.
It was awesome.
When the traffic slowed some, I left to go home and nap, and then watched my daughter dance at a Relay for Life event in a local park. I returned greatly refreshed.
We prayed and prophesied to dozens of people, but a few stand out in my mind.
A woman from Kentucky came up and asked for a reading. It was so powerful, she was visibly moved, and ended up bringing over several other people, one after another after another…
That’s how it happened: one person would be blown away by God’s love and they’d go and grab a few others to come and receive a word as well.
For instance, another woman from Kentucky sat down, and as I prophesied over her, I mentioned how God was calling her to work with girls who self-harmed, especially cutters. I gave some instruction from God for the future, and she simply was stunned.
Then she told me she worked in a group home for young women, and specifically worked with cutters. But she learned something new and asked for more prayer over the word she received.
This woman also read tarot cards in another booth. She said today, she felt for some reason she wasn’t supposed to read cards. Now she knew why: we were there and the Holy Spirit was present.
During lags in foot traffic, I was able to visit with the people staffing booths next to us.
The investigation team right next to us were basically rooted in Gnosticism, which is perspective of a lot of people at these events.
When they packed up to head back to their home town, one of them asked me for a reading. Well, I told her I had been giving her “readings” the entire time we talked, and she admitted that she recognized that. I gave her some additional instruction about God’s call in her life, and she asked for prayer.
I said, “You’ve been watching us. You know the drill. I’m going to invite the Holy Spirit… Holy Spirit, come.” We waited several seconds, and God fell on her.
Goosebumps came on her arms and she grinned.
I said softly, “There he is. More Lord!” She started to giggle with joy. I felt like the Presence of God rained on her from head to toe with love and grace and mercy. I felt waves coming off her, and I prayed for her.
Afterwards, she said, “Wow. It started from my head and went all the way down to my feet.” She felt loved, and I reminded her how much Jesus loved her. She just grinned and nodded. I don’t think she had ever been told that.
That’s the way of it. We planted and watered many seeds for the Lord this weekend.
Embracing the Rejected
Many of the people we spoke with were believers- or had been-, but were not comfortable speaking with their church leaders about the paranormal events they were encountering, so they came to this fair to speak with people who would “understand.” Many others had been to a church at one time, but felt rejected or condemned by Christians.
One psychic who had a booth at the convention came by, and I told her, “I apologize for how Christians have treated you, all the condemnation and hate you’ve received.” She nodded, and said, “I have received a lot of hate from Christians.”
I said, “Jesus loves you. Jesus loves psychics.” She smiled and quickly walked away, but looked at me and said, “I know…” She had a sadness in her eyes and continued walking away. But God is after her!
Several people told us they felt more “light” in our area than anywhere else, and didn’t want to leave. They felt the presence of the Holy Spirit: power and love.
One person came by with an accusing air and asked what we meant by “readings.” I explained that “spiritual readings” are just words that were acceptable to that audience and they meant “prophetic encouragement.” She nodded and said that made sense. The more I talked about Jesus, the less accusing she became, and encouraged us and wished us well.
Asked to Speak on Sunday
On Sunday, I was offered a chance to speak on one of the main stages. Tim from the Charleston Vineyard came to staff our booth, along with three teens. I didn’t expect anyone to attend my session, but I prepared as if it would be full.
Aside from my wife and parents, one woman came and then two other women came. I had earlier prophesied to all of them and they wanted to hear more. I spoke about the good news of the Kingdom of God.
While we talked, the first woman broke down in tears.
It turns out her daughter is a seer. But years ago, the church rejected her. And then the church rejected the entire family. The daughter, to cope with her curse, as she thought of it, turned to heroin.
The lady said, “I keep thinking about what you said yesterday… how I need to take a risk…” She was shaken and rethinking some of her worldview. She realized her daughter’s ability wasn’t a curse, but a gift, just misunderstood.
Later, as I was packing up our A-frames, she was outside smoking. She said she wanted to ask for prayer to break the smoking habit. I spent another 15 minutes talking and praying with her. God is clearly moving in her life.
When I went to watch my daughter dance at the Relay for Life event, I noticed several churches had booths set up and they were well staffed. Relay for Life is important, but I wish these churches had staffed booths at the paranormal convention also.
There’s no greater horror than living under the power of the dark spiritual forces; there’s no greater paranormal event than Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, which frees us from the horror and gifts us with eternal life.
The paranormal community needs to know this.