In Part One, I introduced my longtime friend, Gary Ring, as Spokane’s “grease prophet” because he was a truck mechanic. He walked around in the dirty shorts and T-shirt that mechanics wear under their overalls, often smeared with grease. He is retired now, but still dresses the same way. It does not matter if he’s visiting a soup kitchen or is seated at the head table at a banquet. His idea of dressing up is to put on some sweat pants and a motorcycle jacket.
After Gary met the Lord in Wilbur, WA, he left the farm to join the Jesus movement that was sweeping the country in the seventies. He preached Jesus on street corners in Seattle with others who spontaneously answered a call from God to leave their homes and jobs to tell the good news. At some of their prayer meetings they sang “Amazing Grace” until a heavy cloud of glory came down and filled the room, overpowering them all. One day they were down in the markets handing out tracts, and he walked into an occult bookstore.
His partner said, “You can’t go in there! The owner of that shop is the head of the whole Wiccan community.”
Gary didn’t even slow down. He began to speak to the black-clad woman behind the counter and told her that God loved her so much he sent his own son to die for her. It wasn’t only his words that made her listen. The power of God came into her store, power like she had never felt before. He left and went on his way, soon forgetting the conversation.
Years later, he wanted to quit preaching. He told the Lord, “This is just a big waste of time. Everything I’ve done since I left home has been for nothing.”
The Lord said, “Remember the lady from from the occult book store?” The Lord showed her to him, surrounded by her grown children and grandchildren.
“Her entire family was saved because of you.”
He shouts, “Father doesn’t play fair! He holds all the cards!”
After I left the VA hospital to start my own business, Gary came by my office on a day when everyone happened to be out except me. He always came by at the exact right time. I knew what he was, and figured he had a message.
I said, “Whatever you came to say, just say it.”
Gary did have a message, but he didn’t want to deliver it.
“I went to work, but all the trucks were gone. There wasn’t anything left to do, so I went to the golf course to play a round.”
He was warming up slowly, so I kept my mouth shut and let him go on.
“I couldn’t hit the ball worth a damn. I’ve met so many religious people who wish they could prophesy. Why doesn’t God give this job to somebody that wants it? It’s a nice day, and I’m out on the golf course minding my own business, but Father won’t leave me alone until I go where he says to go. He is such a prick!”
I winced, because I was like the people he was talking about.
When he finally calmed down, he said, “Your business isn’t gonna make it.”
“Why?” I asked.
He waved his hand at my nice offices, “For one thing, your overhead’s too high.”
He might have been holding something back, but after that, he started talking about long-legged women, which meant the conversation was over. The whole encounter was so strange that I believed him.
A few months later, I closed in bankruptcy. One night my girlfriend awoke in the night struggling to breathe. An invisible force was strangling her, and there was nothing I could do to make it stop. She was blue before it let her go. The next morning, Gary came by the house with the same perfect timing.
He asked permission, then put his hands on her and began to pray in an unknown language. It did not take long. The evil spirit left her body with a scream. Soon after that we started going to a nearby church.
What do you call the person who enters your life to snatch you away from the fire? What do you call the servant that delivers and heals you in Jesus’ name? Never once did he make me feel guilty for my sins; never once has he told me to be more religious, or to do the things religious people do. All he preaches is – Come to Jesus, stay with Jesus, and let Him handle everything and everyone else. Perhaps his message isn’t sophisticated enough for the pulpit, but it changed my life, and I’ve seen it change other’s lives in restaurants and parking lots.
One time, we went to the local casino for the buffet lunch. Gary started out by exchanging off-colored jabs with our waitress. Next thing I know, he was telling her about the pain in her life, and how much Father loves her and wants to give her a new life. She was reduced to a puddle of tears in one minute, and accepted Jesus as her Savior in the next.
I know that the Church has divided on questions like whether we have miracles or prophets today. I think we do, but we live in a time when there are not many with power like this, and they are not always welcome in the organized church. I hope that my writing will lead some to reconsider how God has gifted and equipped the Church today with everything it needs to fulfill the great commission – including good news, preached with power.
In My Prophet Friend Gary, Part 3, he calls the City of Spokane and its religious leaders to repentance.