Life is complicated. That's all I can say for certain after hearing one of Pastor Sherman Allen's prized "daughters" in ministry, Prophetess Janice Mixon, preach last Thursday night in the Dallas area.
Now Prophetess Mixon -- OK, fellow evangelicals, don't let the label "prophetess" throw you for a Texas Giant loop, it's a Pentecostal thing and you wouldn't understand -- is someone whose ministry I've followed for many years. And Sister Girl can preach. In my 17 years scouring many corners of the Dallas-Fort Worth church scene, I'd rate her as one of Dallas' very finest home-grown preachers.
Her background is a humble one. She was one of the middle offspring in a large working-class Dallas family -- can't remember the exact number of kids, but we're talking big family here -- and she tells some hilarious, poignant, achy tales about how they managed to survive, somehow with shoes for everyone.
Mixon was raised Baptist, but somewhere along there some Pentecostals got a hold of her -- Church of God in Christ folk, if I’m not mistaken -- and she stepped into her prophetic calling. In practical terms, being a prophetess for Mixon means preaching, followed by specific "words" for individuals and ministries that the Holy Spirit impresses upon her heart. She also teaches about intercessory prayer. Nothing spooky, OK?
One of the first times I heard her preach, she talked about the hardships in her life, like a marriage busted up by infidelity, and how God used sorrows such as this to cause her to "come away" into a private place and burrow into Jesus' arms. First she found comfort in that secret place, then spiritual insight was birthed and cultivated and refined there.
Before she entered full-time ministry, Mixon was a Dallas police officer. She attained the rank of sergeant and was once selected as DPD's officer of the year. She’d also graduate from Dallas Baptist University and do a stint with DART police. (If you've been reading Jim Schutze's columns, don't hold it against her.)
When I first heard her maybe 10 years ago, she was an up-and-comer on the local preaching scene. I don't know exactly when she became identified with Sherman Allen's ministry, but it probably happened somewhere in the 1990s. She was never a member of Shiloh Institutional Church of God in Christ, to my knowledge, but she became an integral part of Allen's annual Prophetic Summit, which brought in big-name Pentecostal preachers and prophets from all over the country: T.D. Jakes, Carlton Pearson -- before he took his doctrinal dive into heresy -- Juanita Bynum, Mark Chironna and many more.
Sherman Allen considered Mixon a "daughter" in the ministry. He undoubtedly opened doors for her. She went from a secondary name to a sought-after name. She set up a second base of operations in St. Louis, where she now lives. And she endured further hardship, which she alludes to in some of her messages. It's tough being a woman in full-time ministry.
I've heard Mixon preach numerous times, mostly at an annual event organized by my church. I also had a few occasions to speak with her on a more personal basis. What I've seen in my years of observation is that she is a woman of integrity. Not to mention spiritual insight. I believe she had something to do with my son being brought into this world. In 1998, after a message, she called up for prayer all of the women with female health issues. I took a step forward -- none of your business -- then abruptly stepped back when she added, "…and you want to have children." Didn't think I was ready for that just yet.
I guess the prayer must have caught me in mid-stride. I had no idea, but I would have been about two weeks' pregnant at that very moment. Thirty-six weeks later I was holding a bald, scrunchy-faced little boy in my arms.
Yeah, I know my husband and I had something to do with it. Duh. But in 17 years of marriage, I've been pregnant exactly once. So say what you will. As for me, I took the opportunity to offer the prophetess my thanks a few years ago.
Today, Janice Mixon's name is still connected with Allen, for better or worse. Right now, definitely worse. She preached at Shiloh last month -- one of the guest speakers called in to preach on Sunday mornings while Allen serves his suspension from pastoral duties in his denomination, the Church of God in Christ. And I guess it would be easy to toss her on the dung heap with Allen and his swingin' preacher brethren, like Bishop Terry Hornbuckle. Hornbuckle, you might recall, was convicted last year of drugging and sexually assaulting several women. You know what the old saints say, "Bad company corrupts good character."
But it would not be fair to hang that on Mixon. In my reporting on the Allen story, several sources cautioned me: Don't put Mixon in that same boat. Her ministry deserves respect.
I did go to hear her with some trepidation last week. "Lord, please show me she isn't one of them." I'm talking about DFW's bad-boy preachers -- with their stupid entourages, armed bodyguards and 'Benzes, the rippling Italian suits and the thunderous messages and the morally defrocked lives.
I’m so sick of that scene I could throw up.
The event took place in the attractive but sterile surroundings of the Addison Conference Center. Maybe 100 people were there. The praise and worship were pitch-perfect and technically adept but seemingly lacking in passion. Or maybe I was just tired. I suppressed the urge to tip out. Good choice.
So out comes Mixon, dressed smartly, as always. Black jacket and skirt, sleek hair and sharp polka-dotted shoes, which she'd use with precise rhythm on the wooden stage to punctuate points of revelation in her message: "The Biiiii-ble say…" Stamp, stamp.
The preacher came from 2 Samuel 9, a tale of lavish grace. Saul, whom the people of Israel demanded as king so they could keep up with surrounding nations, the Joneses, had crashed in a smoldering heap. He repeatedly disobeyed God by consulting a witch, acting presumptuously and trying to kill his successor, David, among other transgressions. God stripped Saul of his anointing -- the Holy Spirit that rested upon certain kings and prophets in Old Testament times -- and abandoned him to his demons.
David, meanwhile, loved Saul and honored him as a father in spite of it all. He was once God's anointed, after all; nothing could erase that.
Saul and his son Jonathan, David's beloved friend, would end up dead on the battlefield. David knew it was his time--he'd been anointed king by the prophet Samuel while Saul was still alive -- yet he penned a lament for Saul. "How are the mighty fallen!" Even in death, when there was nothing to be gained from it, David honored Saul.
Later, he inquired whether anyone still lived from the House of Saul to whom he could show kindness "for Jonathan's sake."
Saul's former servant noted that there was one son, Mephibosheth, who was crippled in both feet. David summoned him and bestowed grace: For the rest of his life, Mephibosheth, the least of a forsaken family line -- "What is your servant," Mephibosheth asked David, "that you should notice a dead dog like me?" -- was permitted to eat at the king's table.
Now Mixon tied Mephibosheth to the lost dreams and visions of many of God's seemingly forsaken people. Yet in an instant for Mephibosheth, God upended disgrace with his grace. Mixon sought to nudge to life those broken dreams.
"God told me to tell you," she roared, "I'm getting ready to bring their tomorrow into their today!" Stamp, stamp.
One thing about Mephibosheth, she noted. He remained crippled throughout his life. He bore the scars of his troubles as well as the imprint of grace.
From the moment Mixon cracked open her Bible, I thought of Sherman Allen. Saul. And she, his daughter.
Oh, I imagine she'd reject my associations. But Holy Ghost-anointed preaching leaves a space for that. The preacher gives the message, hopefully under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and I hear it. Then, in the closet of my heart, the Holy Spirit moves me to understanding and action.
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The result could be something very different from what the messenger had in mind when she gave the message.
I do know this: Janice Mixon is in a tough spot. She refuses to dishonor her father in ministry. I say leave her be.
Yes, life is complicated.
Thank God for grace, and the fact that a daughter's present isn't condemned by her father's past. --Julie Lyons