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'Reagan Inside Out' by Bob Slosser
Spiritual Life

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The Prophecy

By Bob Slosser Senior Writer -- A Prophecy

The afternoon sunlight was dimming, thrusting the spacious living room into browns and golds. It was that magic moment peculiar to the fall of the year, whether in California or Maine, when it is neither day nor dusk. Childhood memories are often filled with Sunday afternoons like that, memories of a special day.

Seven sharply different people drifted into that moment on this Sunday afternoon in October, 1970, stepping almost aimlessly toward the foyer of a stately Tudor home in Sacramento. They were talking rather softly, but running over one another's words as they edged toward the entrance.

One moved in front, then hesitated, looking back at the rest. That was Herbert E. Ellingwood. He was, in a fashion, herding four of the others, who were obviously visitors. He was just a whisper out of rhythm with them-not awkward, perhaps tentative. They were getting ready to say good-bye and that heightened everyone's uncertainty.

Ronald Reagan was smiling and nodding as he turned his head toward Pat Boone, whose smile caused his entire face to glisten. Nancy Reagan watched the two of them momentarily, the barest trace of a smile on her lips, and then she whispered two or three words to Shirley Boone. Two rather short men, Harald Bredesen and George Otis, moved toward Ronald Reagan and Boone. Both were silent, and Bredesen seemed to be studying the floor.

Suddenly, everyone stopped. In the split-second of stillness, they looked at one another. Then one of the men-Boone or Bredesen-said, "Governor, would you mind if we prayed a moment with you and Mrs. Reagan?"

"We'd appreciate that." Reagan's face remained bright and pleasant, but eased ever so slightly toward seriousness.

It was hard to tell who moved first, probably Boone, but in a sort of chain reaction, the seven took hold of each other's hands and made an uneven circle. For an instant, they were like little children, each looking first to the right and down at one set of hands and then left to the other. Only Boone seemed thoroughly at ease, but long friendship had broken all barriers between him and all those there, including the Reagans, their hosts. He had a happy smile on his face. Otis and Bredesen were obviously tense. Nancy's expression was quizzical, but relaxed.

All seven closed their eyes. Reagan bowed his head sharply; Nancy's remained fairly level. The others tilted theirs a bit.

Otis, standing to Reagan's left, remembered the few seconds of awkward silence that followed. "It was a little tense," he said, "a bit embarrassing. We didn't know how they felt about doing that, you know. Suddenly we realized we might be a little presumptuous."

And that's the way they stood, holding hands, eyes closed. Otis thought the seconds seemed like minutes. He cleared his throat, and began to pray, "Lord, we thank you for the chance to be here together. ..." It was very general, the kind of prayer offered at large and small gatherings all across the land. It was so ordinary that no one remembered much of it.

"I was just sort of praying from the head," Otis said. "I was saying those things you'd expect-you know, thanking the Lord for the Reagans, their hospitality, and that sort of thing."

That went on for ten or fifteen seconds, and then it changed. "Everything shifted from my head to the spirit-the Spirit," Otis recalled. "The Holy Spirit came upon me and I knew it. In fact, I was embarrassed. There was this pulsing in my arm. And my hand-the one holding Governor Reagan's hand-was shaking. I didn't know what to do. I just didn't want this thing to be happening. I can remember that even as I was speaking, I was working, you know, tensing my muscles and concentrating, and doing everything I could to stop that shaking.

"It wasn't a wild swinging or anything like that. But it was a definite, pulsing shaking. And I made a great physical effort to stop it-but I couldn't."

As this was going on, the content of Otis' prayer changed completely. His voice remained essentially the same, although the words came much more steadily and intently. They spoke specifically to Ronald Reagan and referred to him as "My son." They recognized his role as leader of the state that was indeed the size of many nations. His "labor" was described as "pleasing."

The foyer was absolutely still and silent. The only sound was George's voice. Everyone's eyes were closed.

"If you walk uprightly before Me, you will reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

The words ended. The silence held for three or four seconds. Eyes began to open, and the seven rather sheepishly let go of hands.

Reagan took a deep breath and turned and looked into Otis' face. All he said was a very audible "Well!" It was almost as though he were exhaling.

Bob Slosser interviews Ronald Reagan in the White HouseOtis was struck by the calm expression on Reagan's face. "I was really concerned about how he might have taken it all," George remembered. "But the expression on his face was kind, wholesome-a receptive look, you know. It was not gushy or sentimental or any of that. He just said, 'Well,' and that was that. We all said good-bye, and we left."

Ellingwood, the Governor's legal affairs secretary, had driven the Boones, Bredesen, and Otis from the airport several hours before the big Christian rally that had brought them all from Southern California. Pat and Ron had been friends for some time, so a visit seemed natural, although Reagan was deep into the pressure of his campaign for reelection as Governor of California. Pat had been especially eager to talk about his own recent experiences as a serious-minded Christian and had asked his two close friends along with him.

"I had known that Reagan was under tremendous pressure from the campaign," Bredesen said later, "and I had anticipated seeing a pressured, harried-looking person. But when he opened the door he just stood there, sort of leaning up against the door in the most casual, boyish, carefree way. I was absolutely amazed."

Before taking the guests inside, the governor showed them around the grounds, the swimming pool, and the patio. It was a dazzling, sunny October day, and Reagan, wearing gray slacks and a long-sleeved open-necked sport shirt, seemed to enjoy it fully.

Bredesen recounted: "I remember that later on I remarked about how well and how relaxed he seemed despite the pressures that obviously were on him, and he said, 'Well, I determined very early in my political career that I would never make decisions on the basis of votes gained or lost, but whether it was right or wrong.' He paused, and said with a wide grin, 'This has relieved me of a great deal of tension. ' "

After the tour, they went inside the big home, which Reagan leased from a group of wealthy friends who bought it after Ron and Nancy had determined the old Governor's Mansion was not the place to bring up young Ron and Patti.

They sat in the long, simple and tasteful living room, and Reagan quickly went into an alcove and returned with soft drinks for everyone. "There was not a question as to anything stronger," Otis recalled. "He simply brought soft drinks."

Much of the conversation dealt with spiritual matters. Reagan asked questions, and offered his opinions. But he listened a lot. Otis remembered the discussions as "quietly intense."

At one point, Reagan spoke of a recent visit by Billy Graham. He said he had been sick in bed and the evangelist had dropped in. Those present that afternoon reconstructed the account as follows:

"Billy shared with me a very interesting conversation he had had with Chancellor Adenauer [of West Germany]," Reagan said. "It seems that the chancellor asked him: 'Billy, do you know what the next great event of world history is going to be?' And Billy replied, 'I wish you'd tell me.'

" 'The return of Jesus Christ,' Adenauer said.

"And the chancellor went on, ' As you know, Billy, I'm a student of the Scriptures, especially of prophetic eschatology, and I have discovered in my studies that, though there are many of these prophecies that must be fulfilled before Christ returns, many have long since been fulfilled. Today all prophetic eschatology focuses on this present period of world history as the one in which He will come back.' "

With that, Bredesen recalled, Reagan began to discuss the biblical prophecies that had been fulfilled, mostly those pertaining to the Jews and the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. He especially noted the words of Jesus in Luke's Gospel that many conservative scholars believe point to the Six-Day War in 1967 and Israel's re-establishment of Jewish control of Jerusalem for the first time since Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed the city in 587 B.C.: Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. l

When Reagan concluded, Bredesen jumped in: "Governor, you've left off the most important area of fulfilled prophecy of all."

"What's that?" he asked.

"Just before Jesus Christ comes back, there will be a tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a scale not seen since the Day of Pentecost." Bredesen paused, smiling brightly, and Reagan pursed his lips, looking into Harald's face.

"James tells us: 'Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord, for as the husbandman sowed his seed and waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he has received the early and the latter rain, be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.'" 2

Reagan merely nodded his head. Harald pressed on. "Well, as you probably know, there are two rainy seasons in Israel-the early rain, which prepares the soil for the reception of the seed and germinates the seed after it has been sown and nurses it along while it sends down its roots. Then will come a period of relative drought, in which the grain seems to be making very little headway. And then comes the final rain-the latter rain-which brings the grain to a head overnight, for the return of the husbandman."

Again, the governor nodded his head. "What will this latter rain be?" he asked.

A boyish smile burst onto Bredesen's face. "Well, there's a classic commentary for evangelicals for more than a hundred years-Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, British scholars-and they say this will probably be 'another Pentecost-like effusion,' preparing the church-the harvest, for the return of the husbandman."

Everyone in the room was listening to Reagan and Bredesen by this time. The sun's rays splashed across the floor, brightening the intensity of the discussion. Boone looked first at the governor and then back at Harald.

"Governor," Harald spoke softly, leaning forward in his chair, "I'm sure you agree that it's unusual to get an archconservative and an archliberal and the Scriptures all to agree." He smiled quickly. "It would be more than a coincidence if they agreed, wouldn't you say?"

Reagan was still, then grinned. "That I would." "Well," Harald said, "I'd like to give you a quotation from the president of Moody Bible Institute-the conservative-and one from a professor at Harvard Theological Seminary-the liberal. Maybe you can tell me which is which."

Harald paused just for a second, touched his fingertips together, then began: "Commenting on the sixteenth chapter of Mark, the Great Commission, this theologian says, 'Healing the sick, casting out demons, speaking in new tongues, still occurs in the foreign mission field and will doubtless become well-nigh universal just before the return of Christ.' "

Bredesen hesitated for a moment and asked Reagan, "Was that Harvard or was it Moody?"

Reagan laughed. "Before I tell you, I'd like to hear quotation number two."

"Okay," Harald said. "I don't blame you. Here's number two: 'In prophetic eschatology, the consummation of the kingdom and the ushering in of the eternal reign of Christ will be preceded by a vast resurgence of charismatic happenings, and in that day, both leaders and people will be Spirit-filled and Spirit-empowered on a scale hitherto unknown. ' "

Harald stopped. His eyes were wide, and he smiled. But Reagan didn't give him a chance to say anything further. "On the basis of vocabulary alone, I know that the latter had to be Harvard," he chuckled. "You'll always know a Harvard theologian; he'll never be guilty of using a short word where a long one will do."

"That's right," Harald said. "But note that both men-archconservative and archliberal-are saying just what the Scriptures say. Just before Jesus Christ comes back, there will be 'a vast resurgence of charismatic happenings. And in that day, both leaders and people will be Spirit-filled and Spirit-empowered on a scale hitherto unknown.' "

He paused for just a second. "And, governor, that day is upon us. And that's why we're here. That's what we-or at least part of what we wanted to share with you."

Small talk followed, and the visitors soon rose to leave-Pat Boone, singer, entertainer, celebrity, outspoken Christian; his wife; Harald Bredesen, former pastor, television interviewer, and minister to world leaders; George Otis of High Adventure Ministries, later founder of TV and radio stations in the Middle East.

It was a strange assortment of people. It had been a rather strange afternoon.

Questioned later, Otis was particularly struck by the fact that his prayer-turned-prophecy had been so precise about Reagan's future. "God had a plan," he said, "but it was conditional. It hinged on Reagan's actions."

Most emphatically, he was dismayed about the shaking of his hand during the prayer, concerned that Reagan might have thought him eccentric. But his amazement was increased when he later learned from Ellingwood, who had been on the right side of Reagan, that the governor's other hand had been shaking similarly to Otis's. Ellingwood himself recalled years later that he somehow felt a "bolt of electricity" as he clasped Reagan's hand.

"I can only think that the prophecy was being authenticated to the governor," Otis said.

Pressed as to his opinion of Governor Reagan that day, he said: "Well, as you may know, I've always liked the man. I thought he was great. But, remember, there wasn't a lot of talk about his being president at that time. I sure hadn't talked about it-certainly not up to the time of that word there in his house."

Bredesen, some time later, recalled that he had been much impressed by Reagan's relaxed, boyish appearance and by his friendliness. And he had found the governor's knowledge of the Bible to be deeper than he expected. Remembering Nancy, he said, "I think she may have been a little threatened by us but she certainly was kind and friendly. I'm not sure how comfortable she was though."

As for presidential qualities, that afternoon he preferred to wait and see.

Also from Bob Slosser's Reagan Inside Out:

The Call for Renewal

The President

Order your copy of Reagan Inside Out

More from Bob Slosser on


1. Luke 21:24b.

2. James 5:7-8, KJV paraphrased.

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