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Appendix 1 - To Other Cities Also

            When Jesus Christ lived on earth some 2,000 years ago, He did not limit His ministry to one location.  Rather He said, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.” (Luke 4:43 KJV)  Similarly, God’s work on earth through the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent after He ascended to heaven has never been confined to one locale but has permeated nearly every region of the world.  God always finds ways of spreading His work to wherever people will receive it.  This was certainly evidenced in the Lutheran Evangelistic Movement.  Not only did the LEM quickly branch out from its Minneapolis, Minnesota, headquarters to other major Lutheran areas of the U.S. and hot spots of revival, but it even spread to regions which were not necessarily known for their religious fervor or Lutheran heritage.  One of the most remarkable of those instances is how God extended His work through the LEM to the Cleveland, Ohio, area beginning in the early 1960‘s.  But, as is usually the case with the unique ways in which God moves, this story began much earlier than the 1960’s.

 

            On May 6, 1922, Emerson J. Anderson was born in Deshler, Ohio.1  A few years later, his family moved to nearby Custar, Ohio, where they attended the United Brethren Church.  Here the atmosphere was conservative Christian with an emphasis on being born again.  Yet even as a boy, Emerson seemed to think of religion as impersonal and nothing more than an accepted part of culture.  When he was about twelve years old, he did go forward at an altar call during some special evangelistic meetings.  But looking back, he said it “was the expected thing to do . . . and I felt compelled to do what was expected.”  In the mid 1930’s, the church in Custar split over Modernism when the new pastor announced that all the pews would be moved out to hold a dance on the church floor.  Emerson’s parents, along with others, left the church and formed a new one.

 

            Whatever Emerson had seen of conservative Christianity during his childhood and youth apparently made little positive impression on him.  After high school, he worked in Custar for a while before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1941 for employment with the U.S. Navy Department.  At this time he stopped attending church completely, often opting to visit the nearby Smithsonian Institution on Sunday instead.  He abandoned virtually all Bible reading and prayer.  God was nearly a stranger to him.

 

            With U.S. involvement in World War II well underway by 1942, Emerson entered the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for training in engineering.  The next year he began sailing with the Merchant Marines and did so through the end of the war.  Four times he found himself on ships in combat zones.  As his ship dropped depth charges at nearby German submarines, Emerson would sit on his bed and read from a New Testament.  He had at least some sense of spiritual need.  Reflecting years later he said, “God protected me during all those unsaved years.”

 

            After sailing two years past the war’s end, Emerson married in late 1947 and settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he put his engineering experience to work as a boiler and machinery engineer.  Then in early to mid 1953, he suddenly began to attend church for the first time in eleven years.  This was likely because he and his wife were expecting a baby (born in January of 1954) and wanted to give her the culturally normal religious upbringing.  The church they chose was nearby Puritas Lutheran, a member of one of the Lutheran synods of German heritage.  Although Emerson had no Lutheran background, his wife had been raised in this synod because her family was German.  Nearly a year after the birth of their daughter, Emerson said, “I began to see the emptiness and vanity of my lifestyle.  I became restless and troubled in my soul.  I bought a small Bible and began to read it on a daily basis.”  In fact he often spent most of his free time reading that Bible, and God began convicting him of his sin. 

 

            “In June 1955,” Emerson said, “while I was sitting in my yard reading, my spiritual eyes were suddenly opened. 

“I saw my sin and God’s full forgiveness and salvation in Jesus on the cross, and I answered God’s call to receive His forgiveness and Jesus as my Savior.  It was as though the Word of the Gospel which I already knew very well intellectually became a precious Word of forgiveness to me in my heart.  Then I became sure that my sins were forgiven and that I was prepared to meet God.  From that time on, I had a new set of desires.” 

Those new desires, including reading the Bible and other Christian books, were in fact so strong that they soon displaced Emerson’s former pastime of dedicatedly following the Cleveland Browns and Indians which he now saw instead as a tempting distraction to his Christian life.

 

            Shortly after Emerson was saved, he and his wife began holding a Bible study in their home and inviting others from their church.  At least one younger couple became Christians as a result of this.2  Another younger couple began attending the study after the husband received Christ at a church retreat to which Emerson had invited him.3 

 

            Having always been studious, Emerson now also began to study Christian theology.  Among his reading material in this regard was his church’s synodical magazine Lutheran Standard, but God had more in store for him through it than just theological study.  A letter to the editor in the June 22, 1957, issue of that magazine caught his attention.  It read in part,

“I was considerably irked at the sweepingly dogmatic and indiscriminate condemnation of the premillenial faith as it appeared in the June 1 Lutheran Standard . . . The ‘Question Box’ gives the impression that only a few scattered, somewhat irresponsible Lutherans have ever believed in a millenium.  On the contrary, this doctrine has been upheld by not a few Lutheran scholars of real theological stature . . . I am one of those Lutherans who believes in the premillenial coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I am prepared to defend my faith from the Holy Scriptures . . . .”4 

The author was Rev. Theodore B. Hax.  This matter so intrigued Emerson that he wrote to the editor in the July 13 issue,

“Sir: The recent writings in the Standard on the question of millennium versus no millennium has created an interest in our church regarding the two views.  Rev. Hax has issued a challenge to defend his position.  I would like to see this challenge accepted by someone of the no-millennium belief, with articles or a series of articles on both sides appearing side by side in the Standard.5 

God saw to it that the outcome to Emerson’s reply was of much greater significance than he could have ever guessed.

 

            As Emerson had begun to grow in his Christian faith, he had discovered that there were few in his church who were of the same spirit as God had birthed in him.6  He had begun wondering if there were other Lutherans in the area who wanted real Christian fellowship as much as he did, and he had become burdened to find any who did.  Then God had led him to four others, and together they had begun discussing how to reach other Lutherans in the Cleveland area who were similarly interested in fellowship.  Since none of them had known of any, they had soon set aside the vision for outreach and settled down to a small Bible study.  Then came a letter in the mail.  It was a personal reply from Rev. Hax in response to Emerson’s letter to the editor.  And in it, Rev. Hax introduced Emerson to the Lutheran Evangelistic Movement and its magazine Evangelize. 

 

            As a result of that introduction, Emerson and his wife and daughter, as well as his mother (his father had died in 1956), began driving the 750 miles to the LEM Deeper Life Conference held each summer on Medicine Lake just outside Minneapolis.7  Here he found the fellowship he had been longing for “which seemed impossible in a Lutheran gathering.”8  And here he also met and was befriended by the veteran pastor and evangelist J.O. Gisselquist.  Gisselquist had retired from being an LEM evangelist in 1956, but as he put it, “All that happened was that I got off the pay-roll, but the Lord gave me no liberty to quit.  And I am glad.”9  Indeed, the Lord had additional special work for him to do. 

 

            Throughout his career, Gisselquist had always been particularly supportive of Christian lay activity.  Now he became especially fond of this layman10 from Cleveland who desired to “bring the lost to Christ and to strengthen the faith of believers“11 in his home city.  Gisselquist encouraged him,

“I am sure the Lord Himself is placing the burden for a Bible conference on, not only your heart, but on many others.  I am also more and more convinced that in the days ahead God will increasingly use the small fellowship groups . . . in which and by which the Holy Spirit will be doing His work.”  “My ministry from now on will be more devoted to help further the free work sponsored locally by men who carry the burden and concern for the spiritual need of their communities . . . .”12 

 

 

The Cleveland LEM Fellowship is Born

 

            Around the time of the 1961 Deeper Life Conference on Medicine Lake, Emerson Anderson and J.O. Gisselquist began serious planning for bringing the LEM to Cleveland.13  Over the following months, they wrote letters back and forth, and plans began to solidify.  Gisselquist wrote,

“I have noticed in the latter years, people are getting so busy that an eight-day conference with three sessions daily, as we used to have in the early days of the LEM, is about out of the question.“  “But times are changing.  Now the summer Bible camps . . . in which you combine vacation with a Bible conference are the ideal thing.  Let us move in that direction as I believe the Lord leads thus.”14 

Accordingly, plans were formulated for a Deeper Life Camp to be held near Cleveland the following summer, and a campground was reserved.

 

            What was to be the general purpose and format of the camp?  Gisselquist explained, “Here then you can have Bible study, real Christian fellowship in prayer meetings and fellowship with testimonies, evangelistic meetings, children’s services, etc.  You are built up in the faith.  And how that is needed!  If there is to be real work in evangelism where you reach out for the unsaved, then the people of God must first be revived and spiritually built up.  This is God’s order.”15 

 

            As the months passed, Emerson contacted and confirmed various pastors and evangelists that Gisselquist had recommended as speakers.  Fittingly, Rev. Hax was one of them.  In all sincerity, Gisselquist had said, “I would be willing to come too, but you can get better men.  I’ll back you up.”16  But it was clear where his heart was when he added, “If the Lord should lay it upon your heart that I ought to come too, then I would not refuse.”17  He was certainly not disappointed when the LEM director personally asked him to go to the Cleveland camp.18  Gisselquist was to become a mainstay of the LEM in Cleveland until shortly before his death in 1968. 

           

            But Gisselquist’s strongest advice which he repeated numerous times was, “I have a real conviction that a local board of brethren that share the burden for the work of God must shoulder the major share of the responsibility.”19 

“Let me say most earnestly that you Christians who are promoting this coming conference . . . appoint that committee.”  “Then whether pastors stay or go . . . or whether the church puts such pressure on the pastor that he will be forced to withdraw, or if the pastors are against such free work, with an independent committee composed of mature Christians the work will go on.”20 

A local committee was soon organized with Emerson Anderson as chairman,21 a role which he was to fill for the next 25 years.

 

            Gisselquist’s advice was wise.  In fact, the local committee could find almost no support from local pastors at first.  Emerson wrote,

“So far we have had one.”  “ . . . We don’t feel led to try to involve someone who doesn’t come forth gladly and voluntarily.”  “If LEM were to wait until some pastors in this area wanted them, I don’t believe they would ever do a work here.  Meantime, the coming may be near and we are holding back for fear of men.  If God give us a camp, money to operate it and people to speak his truth and people to come and hear, I can only assume He is doing a work.”22 

And He certainly was.  Gisselquist was sure of it too.  As he said, “ . . . We shall look to the Lord to undertake for us.  The work is His and He will Himself carry it forward thru us and by us.  Let us have faith in Him.”23  By March of 1962, Emerson could say, “This camp work is keeping me busy.  However, we have received several reservation letters from people who have been praying for a work like this in the area, and so doing such a work is rewarding.  The Lord gives the strength and His Spirit.”24 

 

            Three months later when the first Cleveland area Deeper Life Camp was held (June 22-30, 1962), between 85 and 100 campers arrived for a week of fellowship in God’s Word.25  The facility used was the Suomi Synod’s Camp Luther located on Lake Erie about 75 miles northeast of Cleveland, and the camp theme was “The Hope That Purifies.”  Every morning, a Bible study in I John was held at 9:00 AM, a Deeper Life hour at 10:00 AM, and a fellowship hour at 11:00 AM.  Every evening there was an evangelistic service.  There were also special morning sessions for children and for youth consisting of Bible stories, singing, crafts, and recreation.  In the afternoons, a variety of recreational activities were available like swimming, softball, horseshoes, and ping pong. 

 

            Those who came were hungry for God’s Word - so hungry that Gisselquist said they could have been fed with scoop shovels.26  And they were fed well.  After the week of spiritual refreshment, nearly all of the campers said that not only would they be coming back next year but also they would be bringing others along.  Some were even using their vacation time to attend camp.  But perhaps the most significant testimony was that of Gisselquist himself who wrote upon his return to Minneapolis, “Dear brother Anderson:  I returned home Saturday night at six, tired but happy in the Lord.  I was much strengthened in my spiritual life as we fellowshipped at the Deeper Life last week.  It was really a mountain-top experience even for an old-timer like myself, who by this time have attended about 100 conferences since I came into this work.”27  The same God who had raised up the LEM in Minneapolis was working in Cleveland.

 

            The following winter, a Deeper Life Conference on the theme “Rich Through Christ” was hosted by Parma Lutheran Church in a suburb of Cleveland.28  One Christian summarized the four days by saying, “It was a foretaste of heaven itself.“  “Those of us who attended stood by in wonder watching God Himself work!  God again proved that the LEM is His work and that He is opening a door for this great work in the Ohio area.”  Many from area churches, as well as some from out-of-state, attended morning Bible studies in Ephesians, afternoon studies on “Our Poverty and His Riches,” and evening evangelistic services.  There were also prayer hours and fellowship hours.  Three things were especially noteworthy.  First of all, the local committee was becoming increasingly united in love for Christ and for sharing Him with others.  Secondly, the Christians who attended felt greatly strengthened towards victorious Christian living, communion with God, and passion for the salvation of lost souls.  Thirdly, a number were converted during the evening evangelistic services including some young people who then commenced their own weekly meetings for prayer, Bible study, and testimonies.  One convert testified,

“I am thankful that my Sunday School teacher asked our class to attend the LEM Midwinter Conference, for it was at a service there that I accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour . . . My life has been changed.  I have Jesus in my heart and He shows me sins in my life that I didn’t even know were sins before.  It was a wonderful day in my life when Jesus came into my heart.” 

The local Christians in attendance were certain that those four days were “just the beginning of what God will perform through the LEM in this area.”

 

 

God’s Work Continues in Cleveland

 

            These first two conferences became the pattern for what was named the Cleveland LEM Fellowship.  Every year from then on, a summer Deeper Life Camp and a winter Deeper Life Conference were held.  Local and regional interest started to increase.  And what Gisselquist had said began to prove true: “When the pastors see the Christians in increasing number go to these conferences and return with a glowing testimony, they too will want to come.”29 

 

            The second annual Deeper Life Camp at Camp Luther was held June 21-29, 1963, on the theme “Watch and Pray Always.”30  Attendance was up 50 percent from 1962, and spiritual hunger was growing too.  The schedule was similar to the previous year’s with studies on I and II Thessalonians, the Holy Spirit, and end times prophecies.  But so great was the interest in God’s Word that an unscheduled study hour in Daniel and Revelation took over part of the afternoon recreation time, and an impromptu fellowship hour was held before each evening’s evangelistic service.

 

            Those evening services were the highlight of camp for many.  One Christian reported, “God’s Holy Spirit really filled and spoke through Pastor Clair Jennings each evening, convicting men of their lost condition and drawing them to Calvary.”  “God opened the spiritual eyesight of many souls and brought them to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  The harvest of souls was especially great among the young people, although young and old alike experienced salvation . . . Not a night went by without seeing someone take that decisive step to get in line with Jesus Christ.”  “Throughout the rest of the evening people could be seen throughout the camp grounds seeking out a pastor for counsel on salvation, and gathering in the chapel or out under the trees for prayer.  In the cabins many were having long talks into the night about our Lord Jesus and how rich, and full, life is when He is at the controls.”31 

 

            One of the new converts from Camp Luther testified, “Salvation in Jesus Christ is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.  A whole new world was opened when Christ came into my life.“  “I knew there was something different in my life.  Reading the Bible had become interesting.  Verses I had read over and over began to make sense; everything had new meaning.”32  Another reported, “Camp Luther was really a week of blessing to me.  There were many things that the Lord and I straightened out together.”  A man who had previously been only religious testified, “Christ’s peace was a mystery to me.  Like most average Christians, I felt I was a pretty okay guy, but I found myself living a worldly life.  Now I can say that I have found that peace.  I gave my life to the Lord, and I ask for His strength . . . He has brought new friends into my life, and He settles my problems.”

 

            And the fruit unto eternal life did not end with the closing service.  One man at camp that year was present only because he was temporarily out of work due to a medical condition and therefore had no reasonable excuse with which to counter his Christian wife‘s persistent appeals that he attend.33  She was not convinced that he was saved although he was sure that his perfect church attendance record vouched for his Christianity.  During a meeting near the end of camp, the local LEM committee decided to begin sponsoring a weekly evangelistic radio broadcast.  This man not only was trained in electronics but also owned sound equipment which was currently lying idle at his home.  The committee knew him and asked if he would assist in formatting the pre-recorded messages for radio.  Not having a legitimate reason to say no, he reluctantly agreed.  Two weeks later, one of the committee members came to his house to begin the project.  The sermons to be used were those of Rev. Herbert Franz from Cloquet, Minnesota.  As the two men prepared the first master recording for radio, they encountered what seemed to be an unusual amount of static and distortion which was not in the original recording.  Though they worked late into the night, they could not get rid of it.  Finally, the committee member headed home to get some sleep before work the next day.  The other man said he would keep working on it himself.  But it seemed that no matter how hard he tried over the next few days, he could not eliminate the distortion.  As he worked, he wore headphones over his ears to monitor the sound.  And although he didn’t particularly want to, he could hardly help but listen to the message of the sermon itself.  It was titled, “Religious but Lost.”  As this man was forced to listen to that message over and over, God began to convict him that he was only religious but not really a Christian.  And then suddenly, with no explanation besides the hand of God, the distortion was gone.  These events soon led to this man’s conversion. 

 

            Shortly after the next Cleveland area Deeper Life Conference in early 1964, Gisselquist wrote to Emerson, “It is marvelous how the Lord is opening doors for the LEM in the East.  We have been receiving some very warm testimonies from friends in Cleveland and Columbus.  It reminds me strongly of the early days of our LEM . . . these bubbling over testimonies.“34

           

            Within the next two years, increasing local church support and regional interest caused two more annual Deeper Life Conferences to be added to the schedule.35  With attendees beginning to also come from states farther east, the annual Deeper Life Camp was moved to Laurelville Camp and Church Center in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, in 1964, and the local fellowship changed its name from the Cleveland LEM Fellowship to the Eastern LEM Fellowship in 1966.  As several local pastors became supportive of the work, they began appearing as conference speakers on a regular basis.

 

            The earmarks of each conference and camp were similar.  Representative of these was Emerson Anderson’s report from the 1966 winter Deeper Life Conference.  “ . . . Many assembled . . . to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to His Word . . . .”  “The prayer and fellowship hours were times of blessing and refreshment.  Older Christians testified to the faithfulness of the Lord and His ability to satisfy their deepest soul needs.  We were blessed to hear from those who testified for the first time and from our young people.”  “ . . . And not the least, we rejoiced that through the proclamation of the Word during the evangelistic hour a goodly number sought and received help in being reconciled unto God.”36 

 

            The youth participation that Emerson Anderson mentioned was not unusual.  In 1967, a representative from LEM headquarters in Minneapolis visited the Deeper Life Camp at Mt. Pleasant and observed that, of the 140 attendees, “there were about forty teenagers, a mixed racial group, who received much from the week.”  “ . . . I had graphic evidence that, when the Spirit of Christ dwells in people, people of different races live together in perfect harmony.”37  In 1969, the first year that the Deeper Life Camp was moved to Camp Burton in Burton, Ohio, one teenager rejoiced, “It was really a blessing to me to have fellowship with teenagers who feel the same as I when it comes to what’s most important in life.  My heart was greatly strengthened by the spiritual diet given to me by all the pastors.  Our Lord’s presence was not only there during sessions but also during recreation or whatever we were doing together, and it really did my heart good.”38 

 

            During Deeper Life at Camp Burton each summer throughout the 1970’s, “People always got saved . . . and many youth made commitments to Christ.”39  Some of the salvations were accompanied by definite deliverances as in the case of a husband and wife whose addictions to alcohol and nicotine vanished suddenly after their conversions.40  As they left camp, the husband lit a cigarette and put it in his mouth but immediately spit it out, discovering to his own surprise that he now found it disgustingly repulsive.  Shortly after arriving home, the husband and wife returned to the bar which they had formerly frequented and announced to their friends that they had been saved and would not be back.  The friends scoffed and predicted a hasty relapse for them, but the couple never did return to alcohol or to the bar. 

 

 

The February 1970 Revival

 

            Of all the mighty works that Emerson Anderson saw God perform through the Eastern LEM Fellowship, the one that he was to remember most vividly in his later years was what transpired at a Cleveland Deeper Life Conference in February of 1970.41  But the events leading up to that conference were as phenomenal as the conference itself, and together they formed irrefutable evidence that it was a sovereign God at the controls and not mere men.

 

            In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, a man named Merton L. Jannusch served as an associate pastor at a Cleveland church named St. John’s Lutheran.  After having lived a sinfully colorful youth and early adult life highlighted by drunkenness, lasciviousness, and theft, Jannusch had completely reformed his ways and settled down to marry a missionary’s daughter and begin a career in teaching English.  Considering that he had grown up in a religious environment, it was not so remarkable that he and his young wife joined a Lutheran church near their home.  But even Jannusch did not expect that God, through the pastor’s sermons, would call him to enter the ministry.  Willingly, he quit teaching and completed the required years of seminary training.  This included a fifteen month vicarage at St. John’s Lutheran in Cleveland.  The St. John’s congregation liked Jannusch so well that, after his graduation, they called him back as a full-time associate pastor. 

 

            In 1963, Jannusch left Cleveland for a senior pastoral position in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Shortly after arriving in Green Bay, he was appointed district evangelism director for his synod.  His job was to create interest in evangelism, beginning with the eighteen district pastors under him.  Around this time, a friend introduced him to the monthly magazine Evangelize published by the LEM out of Minneapolis.  Jannusch subscribed to it and read it with interest.  Its contents certainly had bearing on his work as evangelism director.  He attended an advertised LEM Midwinter Conference in Minneapolis and by the second evening found himself “anxious not to miss out” on any part of the sessions.  He began attending other LEM conferences and camps and became quite supportive of the LEM‘s program.

 

            One of the people that Jannusch began eagerly telling about the LEM was Erwin Brandt, a friend from his years at St. John’s in Cleveland.  Brandt’s own story was fairly unique.  He had grown up in Germany and, as a youth during World War II, had been compelled to serve in the Nazi army.  Toward the latter stages of the war as the Nazi’s were losing, they sent numerous reinforcements to the Eastern Front in a last-ditch effort to bolster their army.  Brandt was one of those reinforcements but, along with many others, was quickly captured by Russian forces.  Upon searching him, the Russians found a German Bible.  Looking back, Brandt always believed that because of that Bible he was spared severe suffering or death.  Instead, he was imprisoned in Siberia for several years and later allowed to return to post-war Germany.  From there, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Cleveland, Ohio.  He joined St. John’s Lutheran because of its large population of German immigrants and because of the special German service held there each Sunday morning.  Eventually, Brandt became an elder representing the German sector at St. John’s.  He also became friends with the young Pastor Jannusch and stayed in contact with him even following his departure for Green Bay.  After Jannusch became familiar with the LEM, he invited his old friend Brandt to an LEM Deeper Life Camp in the summer of 1969.  Brandt attended and, although he had been fairly religious until that point, he discovered his need for salvation and became a new creation in Christ.  He returned excited about his new faith and deeply burdened by the Holy Spirit to pray that the LEM might come to St. John’s Lutheran.

 

            Unknown to Erwin Brandt and to everyone else except God, the man who had introduced Brandt to the LEM was not even a Christian himself.  Merton Jannusch was later to say,

“I had become a pharisee of pharisees.  My past life of sin was covered over with a veneer of the first order - clean living, theological training, Biblical conservativism, ministerial success, and religious activism.”  “I was at such a low plateau in my spiritual life that I no longer had so much as a bleep on the screen of my conscience.”  “I was cognizant of no unmet spiritual need in my life.  I would have admitted that I was not perfect and needed to grow, but in the back of my mind I felt that I was head and shoulders above my peers and the leaders in the church.”  “I trusted in the cardinal doctrine of the Bible - justification by faith for Christ’s sake alone.  I thought that I trusted in Christ as my Savior because I believed everything in the Bible.”  “I was preaching the necessity of having a personal relationship with Christ.”  “I had full assurance of salvation,” but it was “a smug false assurance on the basis of my religious life.”  “I felt fully assured of God’s approval - since conservativism and Godliness were synonymous to me - although my heart was like stone.”

 

            In the fall of 1969, Merton Jannusch could say, “I was fully confident that my barns were full and my soul could take it easy.”  But God knew otherwise and had plans of His own.  For the previous four years, Jannusch’s church in Green Bay had held special evangelistic meetings in the fall.  For their scheduled October 19-23 (Sunday - Thursday), 1969 meetings, they invited LEM evangelist Nels Pedersen whose preaching Jannusch had appreciated at various LEM camps and conferences.  Pedersen stayed in Jannusch’s home where “he used a great deal of wisdom” and “never brought up a spiritual matter.”  But at the church, it was quite otherwise.  He “began to preach about the mental, historical, and intellectual faith which a person could have - and still be lost and slated for hellfire.”  Jannusch was pleased to see his congregation paying close attention.  “It was good,” he said, “to see people awakening to things which I already knew.”

 

            One of those who began to come under conviction was Jannusch’s own wife.  Although she had always been morally impeccable, she had lost the assurance of her salvation by the fourth day of the conference.  The evangelist’s statement which bothered her most was, “You can’t give away what you don’t possess yourself.”  Secretly, she began to hate the evangelist and avoided contact with him even in the home.  “She ranged through the New Testament trying to find her assurance once more.”  But “nothing worked for her any longer.”  Deeply troubled, she approached her husband with her problem on Wednesday afternoon. 

 

            Tired out from the many details of the conference, Merton Jannusch was just lying down to take a nap and was in no mood to be bothered with his wife’s spiritual questions.  After listening to her politely, he frankly told her that he knew neither how to help her nor how to give her assurance of salvation.  But, he said, he could tell her how he had seen the evangelist counsel and pray with a church member the night before after everyone else had gone home.  Strangely, as Jannusch began relating the previous evening’s details to his wife, he became “deeply touched and stirred.”  When he finished, he suggested that they pray together about her needs. 

 

            He began praying for his wife but before long felt moved to pray for himself.  He prayed as he had heard the evangelist lead the parishioner the night before.  “Oh Holy Spirit, show me my sins.  Let them pass before my mind so that I feel them and know them.”  Suddenly, Jannusch said,

“I saw a number of sins in which I had been enslaved for years - pride, lust, fear, greed, anger, lying, thieving, blasphemy, and others.”  “The guilt from some of the sins of my past - drunkenness especially - loomed very large in front of me.”  “It seemed to me like a very big, long list of sins which I spoke aloud to God in an attitude of sorrow and repentance.”  “When I had finished, I knew that I had nowhere even begun to see them all, but I had been shown enough to know that I was the biggest sinner that my congregation would ever have . . . .”  “I knew for the first time in my life that I was . . . not a child of God.  I knew that if I’d have died in this condition I would have gone straight to hellfire and damnation eternally.”  “At this point I could not stop.  I asked the LORD to forgive and cleanse me, as He had promised in I John 1:9 . . . .”  “When I finished with this, I proceeded to give myself and all that I had to Jesus.  I didn’t know where the power to do this came from, for I had tried to do this some years before but could not . . . .”  “I gave Jesus my life, my wife and children, my possessions, my congregation and my ministry, my future, my all.  Then I continued to pray, asking Jesus to assume Lordship and control of me by coming into me, as He said in Revelation 3:20.”  “When I finished praying, I thanked the Lord for hearing and answering me.”

 

            The newly converted pastor lay down to take his nap while his wife left as troubled and confused as she had come.  After his nap, Jannusch headed to the church to prepare for that evening.  “As I drove down the road,” he said, “the clear unmistakable impression came upon me, ‘It is well with my soul.’”  The next day, the last day of the conference, his wife also found that peace of soul.  Her biggest fear, it seemed, was that if she gave up her intellectual and mental faith and found herself unable to receive Jesus Himself, she might be left with even less than she had possessed before.  Boldly, she approached the evangelist.  Finally, after a lengthy discussion, he told her, “Well, you’ll just have to make up your mind.  Either keep what faith you have or give it up and receive the Lord.”  She opted for the latter and found the wonderful freedom and assurance she had been seeking.

 

            The last day of the conference was Thursday.  At the end of that same week, Emerson Anderson called Merton Jannusch, asking if he would speak at a February 1970 Deeper Life Conference to be held in Fremont, Ohio, about 80 miles west of Jannusch’s former congregation in Cleveland.  Jannusch said to Emerson, “I want to tell you something.  I’ve just received Jesus into my life.”  Dumbfounded, Emerson was silent on the other end of the line.  Finally, he said, “We thought you WERE saved.”  Jannusch replied, “I am now - and I’m ready to preach.”  Emerson scheduled Jannusch as one of the Fremont speakers, and the memory of that incredible phone conversation stuck with him vividly for the rest of his life.

 

            Meanwhile, Erwin Brandt was still fervently praying that God would send the LEM to St. John’s in Cleveland.  Being talented with tools, he was one of the church’s maintenance and repair men.  This gave him access to the utility room where he often prayed alone on his knees that the church leaders might be willing to host a Deeper Life Conference and that many in the congregation would be saved.  Being of a somewhat quiet personality, Brandt kept all of this to himself until God led him to make it known.  At a December 1969 elder’s meeting, Brandt excitedly told the board and pastors about the LEM conference he had attended.  He told them that he thought such a conference would be wonderful for strengthening and building up St. John’s, and the others agreed.  Several of them had been recently wondering if there wasn’t something deeper to be had in Christianity.  Since earlier that fall, the chairman of the elders and his wife had been coming under increasing conviction of sin and emptiness.  In October, around the same time that Jannusch was converted, this elder and his wife had attended the funeral of a neighbor who had accidentally killed himself by falling asleep in a running car inside a closed garage.  The incident impressed on them the temporality of earthly life.  A few days later while the elder’s wife was walking under a beautiful autumn sky with majestic clouds, her heart cried out to the Creator, “God, I just can’t seem to praise You anymore!”  She wondered if she really knew Him at all.  Yes, perhaps a conference promoting deeper life was just what the church needed.

 

            Emerson Anderson was contacted, and plans were made to hold a five-day Deeper Life Conference at St. John’s immediately following the three-day conference in Fremont.  Of course, Jannusch was also asked to be one of the main speakers for this conference in his former congregation.  He was thrilled.  For the previous two months, he had been tirelessly and exhuberantly witnessing to his extended family and his Green Bay congregation.  An awakening and revival had ensued in his church, the details of which he later documented in a treatise on saving faith, Newly Found, and an autobiography, Ichabod? Has the Glory Left Lutheranism?  But a great longing in Jannusch’s heart was to preach Jesus to his former congregation in Cleveland.

 

            On the first day of the St. John’s Deeper Life Conference - February 4, 1970 - Jannusch was waiting at the door to greet his old friends as they entered.  Among them were two elders.  One of them had been an alcoholic some years earlier but had since overcome that addiction.  Now he had become quite a successful salesman and drove a big Oldsmobile to prove it.  When Jannusch inquired how he was doing, the elder recounted his recent successes.  Jannusch replied that he should remember, “The goodness of God leads you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4b)  The two elders were startled.  Was this the same man who had been their pastor seven years earlier?

 

            Jannusch and LEM evangelist Sterling Johnson were the main speakers for the conference.  Jannusch said, “I spoke my first time in an afternoon, and the people heard nothing.  Many of them came up to me and complimented me on how good it all was.  I told the evangelist that I had to give my testimony.  The next time I spoke I did just that . . . .”  The effect was phenomenal and unforgettable.  Forty years later, one of the elders present that night recalled, “[When Jannusch] exclaimed that when he was a pastor here a few years ago he was a lost sinner, you could have heard a pin drop.”  The chairman of the elders exlaimed, “Pastor Jannusch hit us like a bolt of lightening!”  That statement, made forty years after the fact, was no trite expression.  Jannusch’s own recollection in his 1988 autobiography was remarkably similar: “It was like lighting, pasting the people against their pews.  Finally, when it was over the place was in a big stir.  A Sunday school teacher met me in the side aisle.  ‘Pastor,’ she said, her legs planted apart as if to keep her from falling, ‘If you were lost, we’re all lost!’”

 

            Jannusch’s enthusiasm in his new faith was obvious.  He challenged his former people to consider their present relationship to Christ.  The focus of his and Johnson’s messages was not so much what doctrines and facts the people knew but if they were daily living out their faith and experiencing God’s presence in their lives.  The convicting questions Jannusch and Johnson asked angered more than a few.  To put it in one man‘s words, “Who were they to pry into my life!”  But as many discovered, it was really the Holy Spirit Who was prying.  “There were many to be saved - and others upset - during those days.”

 

            Jannusch said, “The head elder . . . came the first time and sat in the back on the side.  The next session he was on the center aisle about half way down.  The third time he was as close to the podium as he could get.  When it was over he came forward . . . .”  This was a man who had grown up at St. John’s, attending Christian school and confirmation there.  Yet he had never been led to repent of his sin, surrender to Christ, or come to a personal faith.  “I thought I was saved,” he said, but “I found I had no spiritual power in my life.”  “ . . . I lived for myself and my own desires.”  “I felt my life had no value, no direction and no hope.”  After military service and cooking school, intertwined with drinking and depression, he had settled back near his home church where he then met his wife.  As they began raising a family, he said, “We had no power to develop Christ’s precepts in our daily life.  We did not . . . read the Bible, or pray, except when we needed God to help us.  We often fought over minor issues.  We were unhappy and scared.”  Without an inquiry as to his personal faith, this man had been elected an elder at St. John’s and had become chairman.

 

            Now he was confused.  Both Jannusch and Johnson had referred in their messages to opening the door of one’s heart to Jesus as exhorted in Revelation 3:20.  What did that mean?  He met Johnson at the front of the church and asked him.  Johnson explained that John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God . . . .”   “We must individually receive Jesus as Savior and Lord to experience salvation.”  The chairman had never heard it put that way before.  Johnson showed him a picture of two hearts with thrones on them.  On one throne was a cross; on the other was self.  The chairman said, “I knew my heart was full of myself.”  With Johnson’s leading, he prayed, confessing his sin and receiving Jesus into his life as Savior, Lord, and Guide.  “ . . . My heart was filled with the joy of knowing Jesus,” he said.  “It was now late in the evening, about 10:00.”

 

            When the chairman arrived home, his wife was waiting.  She had stayed home that night, reading in Paul’s epistles and thinking about how “unattainable“ it all seemed.  She too had been raised at St. John’s, had attended Christian school and confirmation, but said, “I had no relationship with God or Christ even though I thought I did from believing and accepting all the intellectual facts about God, Jesus, and Lutheranism.”  Lately, she had been seeing herself as spiritually empty and depressed.  At a 1969 New Year’s Eve party which she and her husband had hosted for several other St. John’s couples, an unexpected discussion of the Christian life had taken place.  She had asked if truly they “were on the narrow way the Bible talks about.”  Nobody knew for sure, but the general conclusion was that they were somehow not living what they had been taught.  And so she had been seeking.  Now her husband came through the door much later than she had expected.  “I will never forget his face,” she said.  “He spread his arms and said, ‘I have the answer!’”  But before he could tell her, the phone rang and he spent the next half hour rejoicing with another newly converted elder.  Around midnight, husband and wife sat down together while he shared with her what Johnson had shared with him.  “I accepted Christ and prayed the sinner’s prayer,” his wife said.  “I was gloriously saved and cried most of that night off and on about this wonderful salvation.”

 

            The chairman and his wife were just two of many who received Jesus during those five days.  After the services, many from the congregation waited in line to talk with Jannusch and Johnson.  Jannusch said, “I was talking from ten to twelve hours a day . . . I was also . . . not getting out of the church til well after mid-night most nights.”  The chairman confirmed what Jannusch reported: “By Sunday evening, the last service of the conference, more than fifty persons seemed to have found Christ as their personal Savior.” 

           

            And what a closing service it was!  By the last day, it seems that almost the whole conference schedule had been turned over to Jannusch.  He said, “I preached five times that Sunday . . . and each was a different message.  By the last service I had used up all of my material, and it was the first time I preached in the Spirit.  The church was jammed.  It must seat about six hundred, and every seat was taken.”  So many people had been coming to Jannusch requesting a personal conversation that he could not possibly meet with them all.  “So,” he said, “the renewal would have to be public.”  “I preached on Revelation 3:20 . . . At the end I gave an appeal for anyone to kneel who wanted to renew his faith.  There are kneeling benches in the church, and it sounded like a lumber pile falling over.  Everyone dropped his kneeling bench and knelt down.  I tried to explain that not everyone perhaps was ready to pray - but nobody moved.  So I carefully led them through a renewal.”  “Many people ‘did business with the Lord’ and rose from their knees rejoicing Christians.”  “After the service was over the people hung around for one and a half hours, not wanting to go home.  We don’t know how many people were touched by the Lord, but that congregation was literally revived in a wonderful way.”

 

            Jannusch prolonged his stay through Monday so that he could hold a special fellowship meeting for the new converts that evening.  About fifty people attended.  After some hymn singing, Jannusch outlined “Helps for Christian Living.”  Then many of the new Christians testified of what they had found in Jesus.  “Anyone there could tell that something wonderful had happened,” Jannusch said.

 

            In the days ahead, the five saved elders began using their monthly elder’s calls to ask church members about their spiritual condition.  Occasionally, they would see someone make a profession of faith.  But, sad to say, not everyone at St. John’s was as supportive of what had happened at the conference.  Consequently, according to Jannusch, the excitement died down after about six months.

 

 

Ongoing Revival Activities

           

            But the excitement did not die down everywhere.  As news of the St. John’s revival spread around the Cleveland area, a local pastor named Robert Hofener listened to it with great interest.  Hofener had previously attended some LEM functions, and God had lately been working in his heart, especially through a Billy Graham evangelism conference for pastors which he had attended.  Now with growing eagerness, Hofener began steadily attending LEM Deeper Life meetings and conferences and, according to his wife, “came back from them a changed person.”42  God mightily touched his heart, and the gospel became like a fire burning inside him.  He saw people as either saved or lost, and just because they were in the Lutheran church did not necessarily mean that they were saved.  Now he saw it as his job to witness to others.  Hofener was so excited about his faith that, at a synodical district meeting, he boldly asked his bishop if he was born again.  Few of Hofener’s fellow pastors shared his enthusiasm, but that did not deter Hofener from exclaiming to Emerson Anderson, “I have to have one of these LEM conferences at my church!”  Emerson helped to arrange what became the first of many Deeper Life Conferences at Hofener’s church for October of 1970.  Hofener’s wife, however, wanted nothing to do with the LEM.  “I was so smug,” she said.  “I didn’t need ‘that stuff.’”  She found it “unnerving” that one of the conference speakers had to stay in their home and, to avoid him, she went to bed as soon as she got back from church each night. 

 

            In February of 1971, Hofener’s church hosted its second Deeper Life Conference.  Mrs. Hofener and her friend the organist “agreed beforehand that we would not go forward for an altar call because we were baptized and confirmed and furthermore were Lutheran and didn’t need to repent.”  At a late morning session on the third day of the conference, local pastor Jim Jacobson spoke on “Christ: The Shepherd of the Flock.”  Jacobson was well equipped for the message both Biblically and occupationally.  Although he had felt God’s call into the ministry when he was 17 years old, he had resisted God for some years and had gone into farming and shepherding instead.  Now God was to use even those years to His glory.  Jacobson described how his flock had one time laid down during a blizzard and let the snow drift over them.  They thought they were safe, but if he hadn’t rescued them they would have died.  “At that point,” Mrs. Hofener said later, “the Holy Spirit pointed out my wrong thinking that because I was in a Christian church married to a minister, thinking I was safe, [I was] headed for heaven.”  Jacobson also explained how coyotes would attack the sheep.  “Think of that! . . . all the coyote wants from a sheep is its heart.  That’s all the enemy of our soul wants is our heart.”  “That evening,” Mrs. Hofener recalled, “Pastor [Herbert] Franz from Cloquet, Minnesota, spoke on hell and I knew I was going.”  Unknown to Mrs. Hofener at the time, a conference speaker (Pastor Merton Jannusch) and a layman (the previously mentioned chairman of the St. John’s elders) were in another room of the church praying for her conversion.  Against her former promise, she went forward to the altar to repent of her sin and receive Christ as her Savior.  She was met at the altar by her husband and by none other than her friend the organist who had also come forward to receive Jesus. 

 

            During the following decade, Rev. Hofener’s church became a center for LEM conferences and monthly Sunday evening LEM fellowship meetings.  According to Hofener, “a good little crowd” from his congregation became active in these and in door-to-door witnessing throughout the community.  One of his parishioners, a lady of 60 at the time, testified shortly before her death at 97 that the years of the LEM’s ministry had been the greatest time of spiritual growth in her whole life.43  Undoubtedly this was true for others of Hofener’s parishioners as well.

 

            One of Hofener’s fellow pastors in his synod who did share his enthusiasm for evangelism was Ottomar Bickel in nearby Painesville, Ohio.44  Bickel was the son of a pastor, yet he testified, “Christian faith must be personal.  You don’t inherit it.  Preacher’s kids can hit the skids too.”  “But by [God’s] grace I trusted in Christ from my earliest recollections.”  Bickel’s first of many times speaking at LEM conferences was an early session of what turned into the St. John’s revival in February 1970.  In February of 1972, Bickel’s church hosted its first Deeper Life Conference with Rev. Herbert Franz as the evening evangelist.  “Herb wouldn’t let an audience settle for a cold relationship with the church when what they needed was a warm faith relationship with Christ,” Bickel said.  “Every night he would knock us down with the Law, and then lift us up with the Gospel.”  People in the congregation were saved as a result of this and future evangelistic meetings with Franz, and according to Bickel his church “grew mightily.” 

 

            Another powerful preacher whom God used at Bickel’s church and elsewhere in northeastern Ohio during numerous Deeper Life Conferences and evangelistic meetings was Rev. Robert Griffin, Eastern Evangelist for the Minneapolis-based LEM.  Perhaps one of Griffin’s most memorable visits to Bickel’s church was the closing night of an evangelistic series in October 1979 when over 40 people came forward for spiritual counsel after the sermon.45  Some years earlier at a fall 1973 Deeper Life Conference elsewhere in Cleveland, Griffin’s bold preaching against serving two masters, his pleas to come to Jesus for rest from sin, and his warnings to be ready for Jesus’ second coming so upset the unsuspecting pastor of the first-time host church that he “paced back and forth not wanting to see his congregation go forward for an altar call.”46  Meanwhile, Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Hofener sat near the back of the church praying that the distressed pastor would not prematurely terminate the conference.  God answered those prayers, for not only was the conference somehow allowed to continue but also did a number of people go forward to be saved.  Following a spring 1975 Cleveland Deeper Life Conference at which Griffin was the evening speaker,47 Emerson Anderson reported, “The evidence of the work of the Spirit of God was seen each evening at the close of the Evangelistic Hour as people responded to the call of God for salvation and surrender.”48 

 

            It is no coincidence that Rev. Herbert Franz has been mentioned three separate times in connection with conversions in the Eastern LEM Fellowship.  A Spirit-empowered evangelist, he spoke at one Eastern Deeper Life Conference each year from 1964 to 197449 though pastor of a church over 800 miles from Cleveland.  A biographical sketch of this man whom God used so mightily reveals much about the evangelistic message and response typical within the Eastern LEM Fellowship during those years. 

 

            Herbert L. Franz was born March 16, 1917, in Dollar Bay, Michigan.50  Even in early years, he seemed a magnet for unique circumstances.  Among these were the outspokenness of his godly father Isaac who often bluntly told his unconcerned son that he was lost and on his way to hell.  A local pastor too, Joseph Stowell, aggressively witnessed to teenage Herb, once even climbing onto a roof to help him with a repair job and then kicking down the ladder so he could witness to a captive audience.  Unmoved, young Herb continued taunting along with his friends, “Joe Stowell, save my soul!”  When Herb’s and his wife’s first child died at birth in 1941, Herb angrily demanded of his father, “What kind of God do you have?  Why would He take our baby girl?”  In typical fashion, Isaac replied, “He took her to be with Him because you were going to raise her for the devil!”  Six years later on April 24, 1947, through the help of the LEM’s Rev. Maynard Force who was preaching special meetings in Hancock, Michigan, Herb Franz finally surrendered to Christ as His Savior, proclaiming, “I took out citizenship papers for heaven.”  Joe Stowell, meanwhile, continued faithfully praying for Herb’s conversion until the late 1950’s when he thought he spied Herb in one of his audiences and called out, “Is that you, Herb Franz? Are you saved yet?”  When Herb answered in the affirmative, Stowell replied, “Then I can take you off my justification prayer list and put you on my sanctification list.”

 

            One week after his conversion, Herb was asked to share his testimony at the Sunday morning service of a certain church in a nearby town; but upon arrival, he was asked to preach instead, the pastor having been struck with a sudden case of heartburn.  Using for an outline something which came to his mind from the confirmation class of his youth, Herb delivered his first sermon.  Returning the following Sunday to give his originally planned testimony, he found himself in exactly the same situation.  Would he preach since the pastor had once again suddenly come down with heartburn?  Once again Franz remembered a theme from his confirmation years and expounded on it for the morning sermon.  The twice ill pastor commented, “I think the Lord is moving me out and moving you in.” 

 

It was during these circumstances that Herb Franz felt God’s call to the ministry, and he continued to preach at that church for several years while attending the Suomi Lutheran Seminary.  But while attending seminary, he backslid into studying the Bible for a grade instead of for his own soul’s nourishment.  His preaching became lacking in godly power, and his outspoken father didn’t hesitate to mention it.  Knowing that his father was right, Herb eventually decided to leave seminary and study to become a school teacher instead.  When Rev. Clair Jennings heard this, he drove hundreds of miles to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and took Herb for a car ride during which he asked, “Herb, God called you to preach the ABC’s of salvation, not the ABC’s in a school classroom.  How are you going to answer to God someday when He asks you why you didn’t preach like He called you to?”  Sitting together on the running board of Jennings’ old car, Franz prayed and rededicated himself to God’s call.  He completed his work at the seminary, was ordained in 1955, and began serving a multi-point parish in Eben Junction, Michigan.

 

            In January 1960, Franz arrived in Cloquet, Minnesota, to become pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.  Whatever his impressions of St. Paul’s had been when he had accepted the call, he soon discovered that spiritual life there was quite low.  With his father’s words in mind, “Preach so people will see their need for Jesus; you gotta get ‘em lost before you can get ‘em saved,” Franz began an evangelistic preaching mission to his own congregation.  Enraged, one elderly woman exclaimed, “That man is going to preach the church empty!”  “No,” said her son-in-law who was himself yet unsaved, “He is going to preach the church full!”  And that is exactly what happened as God’s Spirit began working powerfully.  Almost every Sunday, people came to the altar to confess their sins and receive salvation or rededicate their lives to Christ.  At least one congregant was seen squirming uncomfortably during a sermon, but even he came to the Lord afterwards.  Revival became the norm at St. Paul’s and continued so for a whole decade and beyond.  After his regular sermon, Franz would often come down from the pulpit and into the aisles where he would continue his appeal to come to Jesus.  One New Years Eve, he challenged his congregation to spend the night at church praying in the new year, then spoke to those present about the sins of a Christian and led them in spending the first hour of prayer in confession.  During the next three months, St. Paul’s witnessed over 30 conversions.  Some were even being saved during training meetings for personal evangelism outreach.  Franz noted that the frequent pattern of conversion was, “First they get mad; then they get sad; then they get glad.”  As St. Paul’s grew rapidly, two Sunday morning services became a necessity and the Sunday School rented additional space in another facility.  Soon the congregation had completely outgrown its building and a larger building was constructed by the end of 1967.  In the later 1970’s, God visited St. Paul’s with another season of revival, this one bringing scores of youth to salvation or rededication and “resulting in a tremendous impact in the High School.”  Twenty-two years after Franz’s arrival, St. Paul’s had a membership of 780.51 

 

            It was not only in the church building that God was using Franz.  Annual summer Bible camps at Park Lake in Mahtowa, Minnesota, were so dynamic that Rev. J.O. Gisselquist, upon visiting in 1963, declared, “[I] stepped right into a revival. This had been going on for some time in [Franz’s] church and it was real . . . His congregation this year filled the camp. Outsiders from other congregations and other denominations came in goodly numbers.“52  Weekly radio broadcasts on multiple stations made Franz’s fiery evangelistic sermons “the talk of the town.”  Wherever Franz went in Cloquet, everyone knew him.  He made 30 to 40 visitation calls per week in homes, nursing homes, and hospitals; and it was not uncommon for roommates to respond to the gospel during Franz’s hospital visits to church members. 

 

            Without a doubt, the conversions were God’s work and Franz was merely His instrument.  Sometimes unusual circumstances made this especially clear.  There was the woman who invited Franz and his family for supper, announcing boldly after the meal, “I invited you here because my husband needs to get saved.”  And the unsuspecting husband did indeed receive Christ that night after the gospel was presented.  Then there was the stepfather who scoffed at the witness of his Christian stepson who was dying of cancer.  Ten minutes after the stepson was pronounced dead early one morning, Franz arrived at the hospital room where the stepfather reported dazedly, “God was here.”  It seems that five minutes after the stepson had died, he had sat back up in bed and spoken to his stepfather saying, “God fooled you, didn’t He?  He has shown His power to you, hasn’t He, Dad?”  After several minutes of conversing, the stepfather had touched his stepson who had then laid down and died again.  A few days after this miraculous incident, the stepfather sought out Franz with the request, “Could you tell me about my son’s God that made him so happy?”  As a result, the stepfather too was soundly converted.53 

 

            Though Franz minced no words, many listened to him receptively having been won by the uniquely endearing personality which God had given him.  With his infectious friendliness and inexhaustible exuberance, Franz warmed and wormed his way into countless hearts and gained audiences receptive to hearing the truth spoken frankly.  He frequently yodeled in public, even people’s names.  He greeted each child leaving church with a hug and the words “Oh, so precious” spoken in a high falsetto voice.  When he led singing, he enthusiastically held the last note of each verse extra long.  He was full of memorably clever sayings such as, “I’m not looking for the undertaker; I’m looking for the Uppertaker.”  When he heard restless grumblings from a tired audience at the final Saturday session of a certain LEM Midwinter Youth Conference in Minneapolis, Franz abandoned his planned 30-minute sermon and instead asked a row of high school girls in cheerleader’s jackets if they knew the Suomi College cheer, “Boom-a-lak-a, boom-a-lak-a, bow-wow-wow.”  When they giggled and said that they didn’t, he proceeded to perform the entire cheer complete with cartwheels across the platform.  Having thus gained the full attention of the audience of well over a thousand, he delivered an impromptu ten-minute message to which 40 or 50 youth responded for salvation.

 

            All during his years in Cloquet, Herb Franz was sought after to preach evangelistic meetings in numerous other locations like LEM conferences in Minneapolis and northern Ohio.  As Rev. J.O. Gisselquist told Emerson Anderson when advising him to secure Franz for a conference speaker, “God has signally endowed him with the gift of an evangelist.”54  “He went across in Minneapolis very well and is being used probably more than any of the LEM men with the exception of the staff.”55  Between 1964 and 1974, Franz certainly did become God’s messenger of salvation to many who attended a conference of the Eastern LEM Fellowship.

 

            There was at least one other role which Herb Franz had in the advance of spiritual life in the Cleveland area.  In 1965, his church in Cloquet joined the recently formed Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC).  Franz later became chairman of the AFLC’s Home Mission Board to which an independent Cleveland congregation, Word of Life Lutheran Church, successfully applied for affiliation and a building loan in 1974 and 1975 respectively.56  Word of Life had been organized in early 196957 by Emerson Anderson and several of his Eastern LEM counterparts who had felt that the waning spiritual conditions in their existing churches were beyond hope.  Rev. Jim Jacobson, who had recently resigned from another spiritually floundering Ohio congregation and had subsequently become acquainted with the Eastern LEM Fellowship, served as Word of Life’s pastor from its beginning until his call elsewhere in late 1971.58  Emerson, who had been getting some preaching experience at a small country nursing home, became Word of Life’s lay pastor from that point onward while continuing his full-time engineering job and beginning twelve years of study through the AFLC’s Summer Institute of Theology in 1974.59 

 

            When Word of Life purchased a building to remodel in 1976, Herb Franz encouraged the AFLC that the congregation they were assisting had “been experiencing much spiritual and physical growth under Mr. Anderson’s ministry.”60  Some of that physical growth had been converts of LEM conferences who eventually left their unsympathetic churches for the more likeminded Word of Life.61  Other growth had resulted from door-to-door evangelism in the relatively poor neighborhood in which Word of Life had first met.  Still, Word of Life’s official membership was never more than 44.62  But equal to or greater than that number were those who attended Word of Life’s Sunday evening fellowship meetings or Thursday evening Bible studies in order to get the spiritual food which they often found lacking at their own churches on Sunday mornings.  This large non-member group included relatives and friends of Word of Life members, attendees and converts of various LEM conferences, and, in general, Christians drawn by the vital and active fellowship at Word of Life which was less common at other Lutheran churches. 

 

For a time, Word of Life met in the basement of a church of another denomination; but after a certain memorable service in which members and friends of Word of Life who were “excited and happy together in the Lord” packed out that church’s sanctuary, the pastor grew concerned that Word of Life would take over his building and subsequently sought to sever ties with them.  It was shortly after this event that Word of Life purchased its own building; thoroughly remodeled it to include a sanctuary, upstairs Sunday school rooms, and a basement fellowship hall; and constructed a spacious narthex addition.  From this utilitarian facility, Word of Life continued to serve as the Eastern LEM Fellowship’s unofficial local headquarters through which conferences and other outreach ministries were organized and to which likeminded Christians were welcomed for encouragement, spiritual growth, and fellowship. 

 

 

Perspective and Praise

 

            A beautiful overview of all the events recounted in this appendix is given by the chairman who was converted during the St. John’s revival and who subsequently became an active participant and leader in both the Eastern LEM Fellowship and Word of Life Lutheran Church. 

“The goal of the small group who first” brought the LEM to Cleveland and later “started Word of Life was to be a catalyst . . . to bring revival to our area of the country.”  “This small group prayed for a number of years, especially in the 1960’s, and held conferences wherever they could get invited.”  “It was the work and prayers of [that] first little group that brought down the glories of God.  Much of the following,” including Jannusch’s conversion, the St. John’s revival, the stirring at Bickel’s church, and “the same movement of the Spirit poured out” at Hofener’s church, “was a wonderful succession of spiritual events and, I believe, a present day reenactment of . . . the first Pentecost and every other true revival down through the ages.”63

 

            Yet it would be wise to conclude this account of God’s work in the Cleveland, Ohio, area by honestly and freely acknowledging that neither were activities in the Eastern LEM Fellowship without their occasional conflicts nor are the wonderful stories compiled above an attempt to prove that revival happenings were widespread or occurred among vast numbers of people.  However, even these facts cannot diminish the quality of the true work of God.

 

These paragraphs have not been written to suggest that revival will come again today if we merely repeat the methods of the past.  Nor has this account been compiled to deify faulty human beings but to glorify God who undeniably was working in people’s hearts.  My own personal testimony is bound up in the stories related above.  My father was Emerson Anderson who at 33 years old became a Christian while reading the Bible alone in his back yard.  There is no other explanation for this than the direct intervention of God.  Nor is there any explanation besides divine guidance for my father’s connection to the LEM and J.O. Gisselquist 750 miles away.  What reason besides the mighty power of God can account for Merton Jannusch’s independent and unexpected conversion that afternoon in October 1969 or for the fact that three days later my father in Cleveland, completely unaware of what had just transpired in Green Bay, felt led to invite Jannusch to be an LEM conference speaker?  At that February 1970 conference, Jannusch’s testimony and preaching was powerfully used of God to bring to salvation, among others, the chairman of the St. John’s elders.  During an LEM conference in Cleveland one year later, that chairman and Jannusch fervently prayed according to God’s will for the salvation of Rev. Hofener’s wife.  God answered that prayer.  A few years after she had become a Christian, Mrs. Hofener began witnessing to her younger sister who was lost in sin.  By God’s own work in the heart of that sister, she was born again and began experiencing great spiritual growth through various LEM conferences and Bible studies.  In 1977, she was married to the recently widowed Emerson Anderson, and I was born to the two of them in 1979.  It was especially through my mother that God brought me under the conviction of sin at a young age, and it was she who helped me to pray asking Jesus to be my Savior.  As I’ve traced this spiritual lineage of mine over 25 years later, it has been difficult to keep tears from coming to my eyes as I’ve realized that it was God who was preparing the way for me to come to Him even decades before I was born.  Although it should have been clear enough to me already that it was He who had touched my heart, He made it vividly clear by preserving these stories from the past to shed light on my own Christian ancestry.  It was He who reached into a back yard in Cleveland in 1955 and into a house in Green Bay in 1969.  And so I conclude that if His work was real then, His work in my heart is also real.

 

            The church in general today is in great disrepair and is very much in need of revival from God.  He has done it before.  The story of the Eastern LEM Fellowship in Cleveland, Ohio, is a story of localized revival on a relatively small scale.  But if God could do it then, He can certainly do it again now.  To paraphrase some of the words of Psalm 22:

                        But You are God, exalted in the praise

                        Of those who’ve gone before who trusted in Your name.

                        To You they cried and never were ashamed,

                                    For You delivered them each time they called.

                        And so, I’ll praise Your name throughout the earth;

                        For when I’ve cried for help, my prayers You’ve always heard.

                        In troubles now, I’m confident and sure

                                    That You’ll deliver when You hear my call.

May God once again deliver and revive His church, and may He do so on a much larger scale than ever before.


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