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Steve and Mila Thompson operate Midnight In America.
He relates how their ministry started and about his spiritual background.
Compiled into a publication for Midnight Ministries by Malcolm Heap.
By Steve Thompson, Midnight In America
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Who We Are and What We Do
I would like to give you a look at my own Christian background and provide you with a brief history of ourselves and how our humble ministry came about through our contact with Malcolm.
As a child I was raised in the Catholic Church. As I grew older, I became very skeptical of the things I was taught and of the Church as a whole. By the time I was in high school I was no longer attending. A friend of mine introduced me to the Baptist religion. Again, I was skeptical of what I heard and did not become involved with them. As many people, I believed in God but I did not practice any faith. I simply went along my merry way.
In 1984 I came into contact with the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). They offered free literature which I eagerly read. Here, it seemed, was just what I was looking for. I learned many new truths that answered the nagging questions I had that the established religions could not, or would not, address. I made contact with the WCG in 1985 and after a few months I was invited to attend. Yes, you had to be invited before you could attend services. This should have aroused my suspicions, but their explanation as to why they had this practice seemed logical to me at the time.
For those of you not familiar with the WCG, it can best be compared to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. They were a Sabbatarian group of about 100,000 members world wide. They were very legalistic, and considered themselves the Church of God on earth, holding a monopoly on all truth. Their founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, was considered the apostle of God on earth, and was believed to be the "end-time Elijah". They also believed they all would be carried to the "place of safety" prior to the tribulation and would come back with Christ and save the rest of the world. This may sound silly to some, but they presented a very convincing case (mixing truth with untruth). After all, there were 100,000 people who believed this!!
During this period I was going through a very tough time with my marriage. I have said before that this must have been a trial, and if it was a trial, then I failed it miserably for I loved my wife more than I loved God. I would soon pay the price. Mr. Armstrong died in 1986. Soon after this I started to slip away from the Church and shortly afterward I was totally separated from the Church. My marriage fell completely apart and I left the state of Louisiana and moved to California leaving behind my ex-wife and 3 children.
In California things only got worse. I was living "life in the fast lane" and ultimately hit rock bottom. I was a wreck, and I had done it all to myself. In 1992 I decided to move to Georgia where my parents lived.
When I got to Georgia I began ordering the new books that the WCG were publishing. Through my stay in California I had never lost complete contact with the WCG, but I certainly was not active with them. Anyway, I was making a sincere attempt to straighten out my life and come back to God. However, I soon began to realize that the WCG had changed, and it was drastic. It became obvious to me that this was no longer God’s Church. I was devastated. At that time I had no idea of the apostasy that had occurred or any of the details involving the break-up of the WCG. All I knew was that I felt betrayed, and as awful as this sounds, I even began to doubt the existence of God. In my mind I thought, "If what I believe to be God’s true Church is a farce, then maybe it is all a farce".
A New Beginning?
Sometime after this I began praying to God, asking him to clear all of this up for me. Soon after, I was in a clinic and I saw a magazine with a picture of Mr. Armstrong on the cover. I was elated. The name of the magazine was The Philadelphia Trumpet published by the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG). I ordered a number of the books they had available. I learned what had happened to the WCG, how it had broken up into many small "splinter groups". I was convinced I was on the right track. I contacted them a few months later, but was disappointed. I was told that there were several things I had to do before I was allowed any contact with the Church. Well, this sure sounded familiar. But again, the reasons I was given seemed right to me at the time. One of the things I was told I had to do was to read two of their books Malachi’s Message and That Prophet and agree with everything they contained. I read them, and there was something not quite right with the second book. In That Prophet the author and head of the Church, Gerald Flurry, claims that he is "that Prophet" spoken of in Deu 18:15-19. Well, I tried to convince myself that the contents of the book were true, but something in the back of my mind told me all was not quite right. I decided to do some research on this Church, Gerald Flurry, and the other splinter groups of the WCG.
It was during this time that my wife Mila (pronounced meela) was obviously being called by God. She too was yearning for truth and joined me in what was now "our search".
We made contact with one other splinter group, but were turned off by yet more things that were not quite right. I continued my research into the splinter groups of the WCG. I began to discover some very disturbing things about "The Church", Mr. Armstrong, and all of the splinters and their leaders. Once again I found myself devastated and very confused. I did not know what to do or where to turn, until the obvious hit me. "Turn To God". Once again I prayed. I continued to search, and study the scriptures. One of the first things I learned was that I did not need a church to worship God. Then, more importantly, I learned that I did not need to find the one "man" to follow. I realized that is what I had been doing for so long, and that it was wrong. God is who I need to follow, not any man. Shortly after this, on the day of Pentecost, Mila and I got into our car, drove to a stream in the country, and baptized each other.
During my search for truth I stumbled upon a website for Midnight Ministries in the UK. I read a few of the postings and my first impression was that Malcolm was a bit nuts and dismissed it and moved on. Somehow, sometime later, I found myself back on his website! I did not know how or why, for I did not want to. However, I started to browse through the materials and the more I read the more it made sense, and I believed. God was leading me, and opening my mind to some incredible new truths. Mila and I shared this little journey, and we believed we were on the right track. We then decided to contact Midnight Ministries.
I wrote a letter to Malcolm explaining things pretty much like I have done here in this newsletter. I requested a number of his books, and sent him the money to cover his expense. I soon received a very nice letter back from him along with the books I had ordered.
The New York Project
Over the next several months I came to know Malcolm pretty well, and I read most of the material his ministry has produced. In December of 2003 he sent me an E-mail one day telling of a dream that his wife Helena had in March about a coming disaster to fall upon New York and how boxes of their literature would be sent to the Churches in New York. Malcolm had sent some literature to someone in New York to distribute, but in the end, the man chose not to. Malcolm asked if I would be willing to accept the books from this man so that they would not be wasted. I agreed, contacted the man, and set up the shipment. Then, I was deeply moved by God to fulfill this project that God wanted performed. I wrote to Malcolm and suggested that he send me additional books so that I could make a mass mailing to 500 churches in New York City. He was pleased, and we immediately began our work. By the end of April we had sent out 500 packets containing the book The Imminent Fall of America, an introductory letter, and 3 or 4 other pieces of literature! This was one of the most fulfilling things I had ever done. Praise God!
Today and Beyond
During the work on the New York project I was laid off my job at work. I had been in the computer profession for 26 years, and this was the first time I had been out of work for an extended period of time. However, I believe it was part of God’s plan. A similar thing happened to Malcolm. He was a successful builder until God had a different idea!! Many others who have been called into God’s service have gone through very similar experiences.
Oftentimes, those called into God’s work are not seeking to do God’s work. I know I was not! Then, when called, they may begin to do what they think God wants them to do. Believe me I know this firsthand. God has a way of correcting us and getting us on track if we are willing to be led by His Spirit, rather than by our own judgment or desires.
Since the New York project, we have taken on other small projects. We created our own small home-based ministry and named it "Midnight in America". This name has a dual meaning. First, it shows our association with Midnight Ministries as their outreach here in the United States. Second, it clearly shows that it is indeed midnight here in America for time is very short. Our mission is to reach as many people as we can before it is too late. Malcolm has already done the hardest and toughest part of the job by writing and printing all of the publications. What we now do is take his inspired work to those people to whom God leads us. Malcolm mailed us a complete inventory of all the material that Midnight Ministries, U.K. has published. We received them the first of July, and things are about to really get rolling! Mila and I are so excited about this work that God has called us to do, and we thank God for it every day.
God has taught both Mila and me some very valuable lessons and many new truths. I would like to list the major ones for you to read and think about.
1. Do not follow any man (or woman). This was a hard learned lesson for me. My experiences with the WCG can testify to that. Mr. Armstrong ran things with an iron fist. While he always told everyone to prove things in their Bible, woe unto those that tried to show error in his teachings using the Bible! We believed he was the end-time Elijah and God’s only apostle on earth. We looked to him, not God. Likewise, Gerald Flurry with the PCG runs his church the same way, and is even more hard-line than Mr. Armstrong according to many sources. He calls himself the end-time Elisha (after the Elisha who followed Elijah). Also, as I mentioned, he claims to be "That Prophet" which really shows that he is putting himself in place of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the real "That Prophet" of the Bible. He has taken a number of other titles unto himself, the most recent being the "end-time Enoch". Anyway, I was following these men until God showed me the error of my ways. They weave a very deceiving web that is hard, if not impossible, for most to break out of.
2. You do not have to be a member of a church to worship and serve God. This goes along with the lesson given above. It was something that was hard for me to overcome because of my upbringing. God hates organized religion. He did not create it, Satan did. For more on this subject (and the one above), I recommend the book from Midnight Ministries God’s Church Whose Authority?.
3. God has true believers and children all over the world within all denominations, and they are all our brothers and sisters. Way too many church organizations think they have a monopoly on salvation. The mindset of "If you don’t belong to our group and do this-or-that then you will burn in hell" is rampant among many organizations. I belonged to such an organization (WCG and PCG), and while they did not believe everyone was going to burn in hell they did think they were God’s one and only true Church. Any person outside of the Church who claimed to be a Christian was deceived and would only learn the truth and be offered salvation after the second coming of Christ.
Nobody has all of the truth, nor does anyone live according to the way God wants us to. The whole world is deceived (Rev 12:9). That includes you, me, and everyone else. The publications Understanding The Mind Of God: A Message To ‘Law-Keepers’ and …A Message To ‘Sabbatarians’ by Midnight Ministries are good sources on the topic of Christians all over the world.
4. As many Christians in this world, I did not believe that the gifts of the Spirit were for us today. I had a double portion of this fed to me because of my Catholic upbringing and my association with the WCG. The books An Introduction To The Spiritual Gifts and Holy Fire! really opened my eyes to this.
5. The Church is divided into basically two camps: Charismatic and Doctrinal, and during the end-times God will move to bring the two together. Personally, I would add a third group to this. There are a number of Christian organizations that do not believe in the charismatic nor do they emphasize doctrine, though they think they do. This is a broad subject covered by The Ten Virgins and a number of publications of Midnight Ministries, some of which I have already mentioned.
6. The end-time Elijah is not a man!! Many are waiting for a single man to come on the scene and perform the same work as that of Elijah and of John the Baptist, who Jesus did say was an "Elijah" (Mat 11:10-14). No, God will not send any man, for if He did, then we, being human, would end up following the man and not God. The book Who Is The End-Time Elijah? by Midnight Ministries covers this topic well.
7. Women are just as important in the Church as men, and can (and do), perform the same functions as men. It seems that nearly all denominations have this stigma against women in the Church. Nearly all of it is based on misinterpretations of the writings of Paul. The book The Woman Question by Midnight Ministries is a wonderful publication that all should read.
8. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned is that I have so much more to learn! There are so many truths yet to be discovered. Nobody has all truth, except for God the Father and the one He sent to this earth, Jesus Christ. There is genius in that too. Just suppose we did have all truth. Would we continue to seek God like we do? Would we not become arrogant and full of pride? Would life be exciting any more? To me, there is nothing more exciting than searching for, and discovering a new truth. Yes, even when that truth hurts. For after we accept the truth that hurts, and then change what we need to, we experience joy! How wonderful! Sadly, there are many organizations that believe that there are no new truths to be learned. They are stagnant, fiercely holding on to what little they have and all the while claiming that they have it all right. Also, by not allowing or accepting new truths, control is maintained by the so-called "Church leaders". They fear new truth much like the Scribes and Pharisees in the Gospels.
Following A Man?
There are those who might think that maybe I have not learned my lessons so well after all. The question could be asked, "It sounds like you’re contradicting yourself. It seems that you are following a man, a man called Malcolm Heap!". This is a legitimate question, and one that I will address.
Malcolm is a prophet, as many dreams and revelations from God confirm (Num 12:6). We are to listen to the words of a prophet (2 Chron 20:20; Eph 4:11; Rev 19:10). However, we are still commanded to prove all things (Acts 17:11). This I do, just as you should do also.
Malcolm is my brother in Christ. He is not my lord or master, nor does he try to be. When Malcolm senses that someone is beginning to feel that way towards him, he very quickly puts an end to it. I have witnessed this myself in his dealings with other people. He does not want anyone to follow him. He encourages everyone to follow the Spirit. He has said these very words to me a number of times when I ask him what he thinks I should do. If he were to tell me what to do all the time I would end up following him and relying on him instead of God. This does not mean he always refuses to give advice or counsel. I have received many good pieces of advice and direction from him. However, just like any good brother, he knows when I should go ask our Father directly!
Malcolm has much more experience than I do, and he and his wife are also much stronger in the spirit. I naturally would turn to them when I have questions and/or need advice. As time goes on though, I find myself going to the Father more and more as I learn to "operate" in the spirit, so-to-speak.
The humble home ministry that my wife and I have started was encouraged by Malcolm. He told me that he felt we were to begin a ministry of our own, but I did not believe him at the time. He simply said, "Let the Spirit guide you". He has never tried to control things or to "lord it over us". Yes, we promote his publications and we do distribute them in the United States as part of our ministry. Why shouldn’t we? Some may say that we should write our own publications. My answer to that is why? Why reinvent the wheel? Were I to do that then I would not be giving him credit for all the hard work he has done these many years. Yes, then I would benefit from his labors. If I were to do that, then what would my real motive be? Would it not be to promote myself, inflate myself, and to portray myself as something I am not? God forbid!!
Malcolm and I are friends, brothers, and we have a very good working relationship. We are both open to correction from each other, and have received correction from each other. We do not always agree, but we do strive for the truth no matter which of us may be right, and there are times when neither of us are right! God had already revealed many truths to us prior to our making contact with Midnight Ministries. We learned even more truths after that. Now God is leading us further, and we will learn even more as we go and we will be corrected as we go. We will follow that lead, just as we have learned. We pray that you too follow the lead that God provides for you, and He will if you allow Him.
Not all of us are to do the same sort of things, though that does not mean what we are called to do is not important. God will allow us to grow and guide us as long as we keep accepting His lead and His truths.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all (2 Co 13:14). & Steve Thompson
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