Founder of Apostolic Bible College
CEO of L McNeese Ministries
Published author of six books
Executive Board Member of Apostolic Archives International
Historian, First Apostolic Council of Kentucky & Tennessee
Member of the American Association of Christian Counselors
Member of the International Apostolic Historian's Association
This is My Story
I was born June 23, 1960 in St. Louis, Missouri to Eunice and Ralph McNeese. I grew up in East St. Louis, IL and as a child attended church with both my mother and grandmother.
Interestingly, I had always been both introspective and inquisitive. At age 7, I was so fascinated by the work of the preacher that I would imitate ministers at home by turning over a garbage can to use as a lectern. This prompted one of my uncles to unscrupulously nick name me "the deacon". My youth and teenage church experience includes memberships with the Catholic, spiritualists (altar boy), Baptist and even the reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).
My education began when I graduated from East St. Louis Sr. High School, June 1978. At the age of 18, I was introduced to the Pentecostal/Apostolic church by Sister Tonette Walker, now my wife of over 25 years. On July 19, 1978, I was baptized in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Ghost. Immediately after those days, events in my life seemed to begin happening very quickly almost as if God had taken control of my life for His purpose. Suddenly, I was in church seemingly seven days a week, and a strange thing began to happen. At every testimony service when the service leader called upon me, I found myself always turning to face the congregation as I testified. When questioned as to why I did this, my usual reply was that I felt more comfortable speaking to the crowd and that it made more sense to do so since my testimony was designed to encourage others.
On October 1979, I found myself enlisted in the United States Army and off to Ft. Bliss, Texas. I remember attending a chapel religious service. My Apostolic/Pentecostal roots had led me to believe that people of other denominations were unsaved, but while sitting in a military chapel filled with young service men, I could not help but doubt the teaching that had been instilled in me.
In 1981, the U.S. Army sent me to West Germany where again, I found myself attending a home Bible study in a town called "Gelnhausen". I distinctly remember a female pastor teaching. She referenced Proverbs 42:1: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee O God." When the service had ended she asked if anyone wanted a hunger for God's word. Myself and a couple of sisters came up as everyone stood at their seats. She laid hands on us and began to pray. As we prayed, I didn't feel anything, but I really did believe that God could hear me and by faith alone, I accepted a hunger for God's word. Weeks later, however, the hunger began. I searched German libraries; I read my Bible day and night. Strangely, it seemed as though I couldn't get enough of reading the Bible. At every lunch break I found myself looking up a word from a text. I am eternally grateful and convinced that God both hears our prayers and answers them.
MY CALL TO THE MINISTRY
The true initial evidence of my new-found hunger for the word was demonstrated by my diligent church attendance, constant Bible reading, studying and a large building up of biblical study books and materials. Whenever I would attend Bible study or Sunday school discussions, people would always greet me later and explain how they were enlightened by my explanations and comments on scripture, and of course, the usual question was, "Are you a preacher?" I have to admit that while I did enjoy talking about the word of God, I had absolutely no ministerial ambitions. I always knew that I was capable of being a teacher or preacher but had no particular passion to be in the pulpit. I have always had a deep conviction that anyone who stands before people of God should first be taught, trained, qualified and confirmed.
In my late teens and early twenties many people took it upon themselves to give me prophetic words from the Lord. Some insisted that God told them that I should be a preacher. Others made hints in my presence that were obviously designed to convince me of taking my rightful place among the clergy. Even my wife believed and often hinted that I should be a minister of the gospel. The most convincing evidence began to unfold in the spring of 1981. It was at that time that I asked the Lord to confirm the words, opinions and prophecies that I had received. Not wanting to be deceived I gave the Lord specific instructions on how to confirm this alleged calling. I knew that only God could do what I was prepared to request. One day while in prayer I made a list of what I believed to be difficult or unequivocal proofs of my calling. I told the Lord the following things:
1. I want to be told by somebody that doesn't know me and that I've never met before.
2. I want unsolicited testimonial.
3. Let them tell me in a crowded place with no one near us.
4. Let it be a place that I've never been.
5. Let them also tell me something personal that's happening in my life that only I know.
By the summer of 1982, Tonette, my wife, had joined me in Europe, but was missing the United States very badly. This was her first time away from home. She was in a faraway country with strange language, no television, no car, no friends, no family, foreign currency and for a while even no telephone. Since we were newlyweds and I was often gone for long hours with the military this weighted heavily on our marriage and joy. My wife prayed and cried and was often heavy hearted. To add to this turmoil there were no Pentecostal churches in the area to attend and we often visited various military chapels trying to find friends and a church away from home.
In the late summer of 1982, we found an apostolic worship service on a military casern called "Fliegerhorst". At first, we thought that we had found a little bit of home, but the heavy dogma that was taught and preached not only contradicted our own beliefs but seemed to victimize the very freedom and inspirations that we loved and lived by. Some of the dogmas involved mandatory head coverings for women, and that women were not able to preach or teach. One event that sticks out particularly in my mind is when an elder named Lacey was called aside by the pastor of the church and told that if he did not start to scream louder when he preached, he would no longer be permitted to preach. The pastor, in true Pentecostal style, felt that the more noise one made the more spiritual he/she was. We stayed with that church, but still visited other chapels.
In the late fall, the church decided to take a trip to Berchtesgarden, West Germany for a great religious retreat. Delegates from the United States were said to arrive, and this was a very exciting time for my wife and me. Our greatest hope was that we could hear good preaching and possibly meet some friends from the United States. The conference began and on the third day of the retreat the pastor of the church that I was attending approached me and said that one of the delegates from the United States would like to talk with me. I agreed to speak with him and confirmed that I would meet him at 12 noon in the courtyard. After one of the teaching sessions had ended the courtyard was jammed packed with people talking, laughing and fellowshipping. I recall hardly being able to find a place to sit, as there were tables scattered about. Finally, in the middle of the courtyard there was one table that became vacant and I waited for about 15 minutes. Just as I decided to leave, a tall, dark skinned gentlemen who appeared to be in his forties approached me and introduced himself as Elder Turner. He said that he was the assistant to Bishop Matthew Norwood, one of the prelates of the organization holding the conference. By this time the fellowship area was still full, but the tables around us had been cleared. Elder Turner began to speak and would not be interrupted. "I saw your face in a dream last night and I was wondering who you were until I saw you in the sanctuary. I wanted to meet you and give you a message from the Lord. The Lord says he is going to use you and that you have an evangelistic spirit, but he wants you to "buckle down". You will be a pillar for the kingdom, just go on and do what God said. Thank you for meeting with me. God bless you." He shook my hand and rather oddly started to turn to walk away. I stopped him and said: "Excuse me Elder, could I ask you a couple of questions?" He replied: "Yes". I said to him: "That clergy tab you're wearing, isn't that for catholic priests?" He sarcastically replied: "No, it's for ordained elders." I said: "Oh, excuse me. What exactly does "buckle down" mean?" He never answered that question. He stared at me for a moment and said to me: "Your wife has been praying a lot. She'll be okay in a little while." At that point he said: "God bless you!" and someone came to shake his hand, ending our conversation. As I walked towards my room I recalled the list that I had given the Lord nearly a year ago. That was the first and last time that I ever spoke to Elder Turner. I do stand in awe at the way God answered the request that I made. This makes me want to reiterate the question found in Jeremiah 32:27: "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?"
Pastor La Monte McNeese, Ph.D.