The Mystery of 23: God Speaks
FOREWORD for the book: The Mystery of 23: God Speaks by Jerry B. Jenkins
This is the story of two Colorado Springs pastors from opposite ends of the evangelical spectrum. The author, Rev. Kelly Williams, may be viewed as your garden-variety Baptist-rooted, Dallas Theological Seminary-trained church planter.
The tender shoot he and his wife and friends carefully planted and nurtured more than 20 years ago was seeker-oriented and drew a largely young, single audience. Today it is a multiple-campus work with between a thousand and two thousand attending weekly.
The other pastor – whom Williams refers to only as his “friend” – had founded his own church in his home in the early 1980s and had seen it explode from twenty-two to fourteen thousand members and become one of the most influential in the United States.
An independent church, it was charismatic/Pentecostal based, and it was not unusual for its parishioners to experience visions, visitations from God, and miracles.
That’s why the vision in the wee hours that eventually triggered this book is so surprising. It was not that of the nationally-known charismatic pastor (whose identity you have likely already deduced). Rather, the troubling, horrifying vision came to Pastor Williams.
It began a seemingly endless trial Kelly wished God had spared him. He had been shown the sins of his friend – which would not come to light for 16 years. For all that time, Pastor Williams felt the weight of that terrible knowledge and suffered the consequences of trying to reveal it.
He loved his friend and wanted to help him, but it seemed his every effort backfired and he was made the villain.
But this is more than a story of vindication when salacious allegations finally proved true. This book is as valuable for its Bible-centeredness and the valuable lessons Williams learned through the ordeal.
As his recurring vision seemed to always wake him at 1:23 in the morning, and other life events appeared connected to the number 23, Kelly began to wonder whether there was anything to the so-called “23 Enigma.” The supposition of significance in that number is usually attributed to the superstitious. But then visions are usually attributed to one faction of the church too.
Impressed by the story, I felt compelled to tell Kelly that my birthday is on the 23rd, as is my wedding anniversary. And I had recently experienced a bizarre coincidence in which my son was assigned to room 623 in a hospital and I room 623 in a nearby hotel.
I confess I find such things only interesting, but you might feel differently after reading this book.
Kelly Williams’s friend’s dramatic fall from grace was as widely covered as any national news story, and the scandalous nature of it gave it even more life.
While Kelly prayed the truth would come to light and justice would be served, he never wished his friend ill. He wished him healing.
This is a sad, sad story, but you’ll be warmed by Pastor Williams’s honesty and transparency, and if you’re like me you’ll resonate with his approach to church work and evangelism too.
Somehow this difficult story refreshes, and you’ll be glad you read it.
Jerry B. Jenkins
Novelist & Biographer
Owner, The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild
Foreword from the book: The Mystery of 23: God Speaks. Available at amazon.com/author/pastorkelly