The former house
I had the privilege of serving one of the most insightful, innovative, and impressive pastors in Las Vegas during the last hours of what was known as the Charismatic Renewal. In 1973, a man by the name of William (Bill) Martin Sharp, and his lovely wife, Nancy, left the Assemblies of God to pioneer an independent Charismatic church in the “City of Lights.”.
Pastor Sharp left Trinity Temple, now known as Trinity Life Center, and joined twenty-five men and women that had asked him to take the helm of their small, but dedicated, group of believers. This began Las Vegas Christian Center and the church moved from a den in several homes, to a bowling alley, to moving from casino to casino to the purchase of the old Cinerama Theater on Paradise Road. The name was quickly changed to Centerama and the 980+ seat theater was filled almost immediately.
Every Minister, Musician, and Songster that was “anybody” came to be a part of what God was doing. Names like Roger McDuff, Demos Shekarian, Dino, J.D. Sumner, the Happy Hunters, Reba Rambo, Jerry Barnard, Harold Bredesen, the Blackwood Brothers, Vestal Goodman, and many others ministered to the packed out house. Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, Saturday and Sunday meetings were filled with seekers. Literally thousands were saved and baptized in the Holy Ghost, hundreds were delivered of demons and healed, many ministries were birthed and are now evangelizing the world.
For five years it was the most powerful, effective ministry in the Vegas Valley. God was doing “His act, His strange act,” and the results were becoming the talk of the Nation. This was Pentecost in the most visible manifestation this City had ever seen and what happens in Las Vegas never really “stays here.”
Sin City, the City of Lights, was having a heaven sent, gully washing, Holy Ghost outpouring of good old fashioned revival. Almost every show on the Strip had a Bible study going on between acts. Such were those wonderful days I remember.
Out of the ashes
In a critical time of making financial arrangements to finance and further develop the property on Paradise Road, a small group of wet-behind-the-ears associate pastors decided that their leader didn’t really know what he was doing. They began sowing discord and spreading rumors until the vessel that God was using so mightily began to sink.
Like rats leaving a sinking ship, the “faithful” began to drift away and join the spiritual mutineers. Others, filled with the poison of loose tongues, left for what they thought were “greener pastures.” The ministry reeled under the attack and eventually collapsed in the ashes of rumors flames.
In the midst of the ministry’s struggle to survive this demonic attack, a prophetic promise was given. It went something like this:
“Like a Phoenix, the Church will arise out of the ashes. I will visit this City and pour out My Spirit in a greater measure than what you have seen.
The coming visitation of My glory will cause all to speak the name of Jesus. There will not be anyone who is not aware of My presence. This City will no longer be known as the City of Lights, but it shall be known as the City of The Light.
Many will go out to the nations. Churches that have never experienced the call to foreign missions will begin to send ambassadors to the peoples of the world. Las Vegas will be a missions sending city.
The day will come when the nations will bring their riches to the Church in Las Vegas. They will come to be trained and empowered to return to their own peoples with the good news attested to by signs, wonders and miracles.
Though the vision tarry, wait for it. It will not disappoint, nor will it be behind it’s manifestation of My glory.
Great will be the harvest in those days. Great will be the display of My love; yes, greater than what you can possibly ask or think.”
You and I, beloved, are living in the day of our Lord’s visitation; the time of which He spoke.