Lockport History: God Opens Doors
by Jess Olivito, Writer & Contributor
PART 1 - WHY ALL THIS HISTORY TALK?
I’m ashamed to admit that I never gave much thought to my hometown’s history (Lockport, IL) until God gave me a specific directive to look closer at some things. On March 21st, Amy Erickson asked me to meet her at The Vegan Cafe to share some pointed wisdom and prophecy with me. To be clear, Amy was a woman I had never met before (and had no familiarity with) who drove all the way to Lockport to share some important details about a vivid dream that included me. Upon meeting Amy, I then learned that she had also attended the Dellwood Block Party last year (at the invitation of a friend) and that’s where she’d first noticed me. During our initial lunch meeting, Amy took her time in sharing the details about her dream before then sharing a wealth of amazing revelation, wisdom and prophecy about my specific role in the Kingdom. I was blown away by Amy’s careful attention to details and knew God was up to something big here - using this woman to speak directly to me. In the moment, it was overwhelming and I began to cry.
One of the first things that Amy shared was a well-known scripture defining the five-fold ministry:
"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers..." (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Next, Amy presented me with an excerpt from a secular marketing book entitled “Tipping Point.” A tipping point is when an idea, product or movement becomes accepted by the masses. Here’s what author Malcolm Gladwell said in his book that she thought was relevant to me:
“Ideas, products, messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do but he has discovered there are usually three types of people involved in the marketing process for this to happen. He calls them connectors, mavens, and salesmen.
- Connectors are people with a special gift for bringing the world together. They know lots of people who have an ability to make impact.
- Mavens are people who accumulate knowledge about a particular area. They are information brokers who like to get information and share it with others to help solve their problems.
- Salesmen have an ability to persuade when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing. They are critical to the tipping point for word-of-mouth epidemics.
I believe these three people correlate to the apostle (connectors), often defined as "one who is sent"; the prophet (mavens), defined as 'one who proclaims truth" and the evangelist (salesmen), "one who wins the lost" - all described in Ephesians 4:11.
John Wesley founded Methodism in the 1780’s. He went from 20,000 followers to 90,000 in five years. However, he was not the most Charismatic preacher compared to Martin Luther or John Calvin who were recognized as the leading theologians. His genius was organizational. He was a maven (prophet) who stayed in a city after he preached to form small groups of the most enthusiastic of the followers. He used connectors (apostles) and salesmen (evangelists) to get people to his meetings. This created a community around his beliefs in order to practice those beliefs in the context of daily life. This contributed to his success and ability to start a movement.
Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen make an idea contagious by working together to spread the message. Consider bringing these three types of people together to see real success on your next project.”
Pretty cool, huh? Well, there's more. Next, Amy shared a little about her background. She’s a prayer warrior from Southern Illinois who also runs a non-profit focused on history tours. As a powerful intercessor, she went on to share her deep wisdom about the importance of looking at our past history if we TRULY wanted to resolve the spiritual problems that existed here. She went on to say that she felt Lockport’s land was cursed because of the past sin, then carefully explaining "the need" to pray over the land in order to properly cleanse it. While I was intrigued by her wisdom, I also began feeling overwhelmed and fearful to act on this. It sounded difficult. Time-consuming. Frightening, actually.
I feel the need to confess what I was thinking in the moment as she continued to share wisdom with me. “What am I supposed to do about all this history stuff, God? I’m just one person trying to make a spiritual difference here - in an armpit of a town that I’ve been stuck in my whole life! I’m not a historian or even a very gifted intercessor. This is definitely a job for someone else.” (I know...not very nice thoughts to admit - but I’m just being real here..it's not like God didn't know I was thinking it). I immediately admitted my fears and reservations to Amy, but she just smiled back at me and began to reassure me in a way that only my Daddy God knows how to do.
Next, Amy shared her notes about a recent dream she’d had that had included me in it. Here’s some of Amy’s journal notes about that dream:
Wed. Mar 15, 2017: I saw lots of train tracks, a maze, and some tunnels where the sides of the walls seemed to be bent in. The there were colors - oh so many colors (more colors than I knew even existed) all on this tapestry together - and then there was deep movement. I remember yelling out to some guy, "How stupid of you not to listen!” Then, I remember feeling frustrated that I’d come to share something important and that the man did not care at all.
The guy in this dream just kept talking to you (Jessica) while you were standing in a hallway with many, many doors. This man really didn't want to listen to anyone (especially you), and instead, wanted to be listened to. The man would not stop talking and you (Jessica) and you began to get very annoyed. I am not sure if the man represents a person stuck in pride... or if the person is in the prophetic without the fruit of self-control. From there, you left the man as he continued to talk at you and went through one of the doors.”
My response to her dream was a total confirmation because that's EXACTLY how I'd been feeling. And even though I’m still not sure who the man in the dream actually represents, it was a powerful visual sign that motivated me to keep going to fight against evil powers and principalities that try to exist in this town.
From there, God (through Amy) reassured me a little more by mentioning things that I’m passionate about for The Sozo Group. Amy brought up the concept of marketplace ministry and that she believed I’m called to be an apostle. Bingo! Boy did she hit the nail on the head there, as I had also been feeling that calling on my life through the Holy Spirit. Then, she shared a little more prophecy (this time quoting well-known prophet by the name of Dutch Sheets) who called Illinois the “Apostolic State” and then went on to share that “the strongholds of Chicago will first be broken on the outskirts of the city, they will be coming forth from a southerly wind first.”
When she shared this, I became very emotional. I think it was because I started feeling a strong sense of responsibility...it was forming in my heart for the town I've grown up in. It wasn't just about unifying churches and planning block parties, I knew at this moment that God wanted to use me to get to the ROOT of an issue here, and that's pretty powerful (and humbling).
I also knew that I had to accept this responsibility - that I would need to be obedient in what God was asking me to do - even if other people around me thought I was nuts with all this history talk. I felt such a deep obligation to listen carefully to what God was trying to share with me (through Amy). My big mouth was literally clamped shut as I sat on my hands...hanging on her every word, especially about Lockport’s troubled history, the need for prayer walks, and that I needed to be an "apostle" out in this neck of the woods.
It was powerful meeting but it was also very humbling one. God presented Himself to me in a very tangible way through Amy that day in a way I cannot fully explain. I will remain eternally grateful for Amy’s obedience in sharing God's infinite wisdom.
Soon after, at a Community Passover Seder I was involved with on April 8th, God further confirmed the need to closer examine Lockport's history through three other people at that event (that I did not even know prior to the event). One intercessor in particular, Pam (who's not from the area), even begged me to take her down to the locks to pray over the darkness. But in using my own wisdom (which included safety and obeying the law), I felt it was in our best interests (on that dark Spring night) to just stay put. Instead, about ten of us decided to pray outside St. Dennis Church while looking at historical pictures of the canal on my SmartPhone. The wind started blowing so fierce that we knew God was up to something.
Then, we joined in a circle holding hands (outside the beautiful wood church doors that lead into Fracaro Hall) as I prayed with others for revelation into our city’s past problems. We pleaded the blood of Jesus over the Lockport. Then Ron Rurik blew his Shofar loudly several times before breaking up the prayer circle - running opposite directions in the night towards our parked cars. We ran because we feared that neighbors would scold us for the loud (but beautiful) noises that came bellowing out of that ram's horn for God’s own glory. It was awesome. We truly felt like God's army for Lockport.
The next weekend, my husband, step-son and I took a stroll along the I&M Canal and toured the local museums. We also stopped at the White Oak Library to check out a few history books. In the weeks that followed, I started asking people questions about Lockport//Dellwood Park//Fairmont history and then would pray for revelation and more resources to come forth.
Out of nowhere, a wonderful woman by the name of Sandy Greenham shows up to one of our Dellwood Block Party Planning Meetings and shares a wealth of information about local history, especially Fairmont. Mayor Steve Streit cheerfully lended me the research papers he had collected on Fairmont. He brought forth local pastors, Ed Loughran (Vineyard Church) and Mitzi Blanchard (Cross Point Church) who encouraged me to keep digging (and praying). God just keeps on opening up doors!
Doors to new contacts within the body of Christ. Doors to new organizations focused on unity. Doors to new training workshops in Chicago focused on prayer walks and marketplace ministry. Doors to new research that's bringing truth about our past history. And I know that God's not done. He will continue to open doors.
And as I think all these opened doors...I now see that they directly apply to Amy’s original dream. The results of all this? I pray it's a beautiful tapestry of healing - that includes all the colors of this city, operating in unity as the body of Christ.
So, what's the big take-away from all this?
That every revival should begin with a history lesson which is then followed by a prayer walk. From there, God is able to move.
So that’s precisely what’s happening this Saturday morning (May 20th) at 9 am downtown Lockport. Alongside the Windy City Walkers, prayer warriors will be interceding on the 10k trail that runs along the I&M Canal, Dellwood Park and downtown Lockport. Interested? Meet me at the Gaylord Building and watch us pray the devil out of Lockport and straight back to Hell.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog. Soon, I’ll be sharing some of Lockport's historical highlights that I believe are “root causes” for some of the darkness that still exists here today. Through restorative processes of recognition, repentance, forgiveness and love (through Jesus Christ)… we know God WILL be guiding us on this prayer walk. We’re so excited to witness the big shift that’s coming to Lockport - a positive change in the spiritual condition of our city. We thank You, God, for allowing us to be your humble servants.