Gary Vanover



   My name is Gary Vanover. I am married, have three adult children, and I am a businessman. I owned a chain of five barber shops, but then someone spoke to me and He changed my vocation. I would like to tell you my story.

   My nickname in high school was the wild man. Now, I'm the wild man for Jesus and it's a good place to be. If I asked you a question, who do you say I am? The team from Georgia would say, well, that's Jimmy Rogers’s barber, the guy that used to be with Full Gospel.

They said we have to let him speak occasionally; because he's Jimmy Rogers’ Barber. I am a Born Again Christian.


   I marvel that my name's written in the Lamb's Book of Life. I grew up a very poor young man in Kentucky and we moved to Georgia. My family gave me a $2 allowance during my high school years; you're going to have to make it on your own. We just don't have the money. We have more kids behind you and you’re just going to have to get a job. I knew my family loved me. I loved Loren’s testimony last night, but it's different from mine. In my mind, I was raised poor and grew up in a church. I had godly aunts, uncles, and grandparents that would take me to church. We lived in a trailer park, next door to a big church.

   I asked my Dad, “Why don't we go to church?” Dad replied, "Son, they don't want us, we don't have any money". Then he said something that stuck with me for years, "If someone tells you they're honest, you grab your billfold and back up because they're about to get in it."

   That's what I grew up with as a kid, and I would say, "I'm going to church, but I'm not giving them my money.” I'm going to be successful."

   So the title of my message is how I transitioned from a fulltime businessman running a chain of men's hair salons, barbershops, into full-time ministry. It’s very simple, prayer, prayer, lots of prayer. Get your wife involved with lots of prayer, go into the faith closet, pull out those prayers and add faith to them and keep praying.

   When I prayed as a young man, I asked my mom, “Why do I have to go to church with you?” She would get up and take me to church.

   I said, why would I have to go?

   My older brother, who's now Born Again, didn't have to go. My dad didn't want anything to do with it. I've witnessed to him, he wouldn’t listen to me.

   My dad told me, “Gary, I don't care what you do the rest of your life. Just don't ever become a preacher, please.” 

   Well, I blew that one, with dad on his deathbed, I ran into an inner-city pastor that I was working with and he asked me what I was doing in that area. I said my dad's in the hospital and he went over to see him. Dad had been in a coma, and woke up when my pastor friend walked in. He led my dad to the Lord two weeks before he died. My Christian walk had begun. I was a Christian and a godly young man in high school. Something happened while I was sitting in a chemistry class, when a girl walked in and she sat down in front of me.

   I said, “Hey baby, do you want to go to the dance with me Friday night?”

   She said, “No.” At least I was persistent. That’s when I really started to learn about being persistent. Anyway, we got married and started raising a family. Years later, people would ask me, if I ever had an alcohol or drug problem. I said, no, I had a diaper problem. They asked, what's that? I said every time I thought I had money for a six pack of beer; I had to go buy more diapers. I tell my kids, you're my evangelist; because of you, I never had any bad habits or anything. I just couldn't afford it because every time I looked around we were raising kids and buying diapers.

   When the last one was old enough to be out of diapers, I told my wife to get in the car, we're going to get a pizza and celebrate. We’ve been married fifty years now. My wife is a godly woman and is an awesome prayer partner with me and my ministry. I've been a Christian all my life and had this dream. It was so vivid and a lot of evangelists said they had a similar dream. I was standing on an escalator going up, and I could see people from my high school days on the same escalator going down, and we crossed that point where I turned and looked at them. They said, Vanover, why didn't you tell us?”

   I said, tell you what? He said, “You were a little strange, but we knew you were a Christian. Why didn't you tell us about Jesus?”

   I said, “I didn't want to embarrass you.” And they said, embarrass us we’re on our way to hell. And you knew the answer and you didn't tell us.

   I woke up right then and told my wife about the dream. I want to know everything I can about God. I'm pressing and we were reading and praying. I went to, a church that offered a program called Spiritual Journey for men. I took the course and at the end of the course they said to pray for something that you were asking God for. I came home and told my wife, who was already in bed. When I got home at night, I said, “I prayed the craziest prayer you have ever heard in your life.”

   She said, “What's that?” I said, “Before I die, I'm going to lead five people to the Lord.”

   She said, “We don't even know five people that need to get saved.”

   We thought every one of our neighbors and friends and family members were saved, and they weren't.

   She asked how I was going to do it? The first thing I'm going to do is an Acts Chapter Four verse thirteen prayer. You go out and they slam the door in your face, and you say thank you.

   But the first time I went out and knocked on a door, a lady answered the door and asked, “What must I do to be saved?” I know this answer. I had an older guy with me to go out and witness, and he said, maybe I better help you take care of this one and we let her to the Lord. About a week later, Chaney has a hair salon and barbershop, and in walks this lady.

   She sticks her head in the door and says, “Hey, I'm lost.” Being the class clown that I was in high school, I asked, “Are you physically lost or are you spiritually lost?” She said, both.

   I said, “I'm going to take care of the spiritual part and my wife’s going to take care of the physical part.” We led her to the Lord and it started like that. The second year seventy-five were saved. The third year, one hundred twenty-five were saved. The fourth year, five hundred were saved. The fifth year, seven hundred fifty were saved. The next year, a thousand were saved, and I joined the Godmobile and I had to quit counting. Numbers matter something; because that second or third year, number sixty-six on my chart was my Dad. Numbers mean something, so I started doing Inner City Ministry.

   I told my wife, “Listen, I'm going to go downtown and started Inner City Ministry and I've got twenty-five dollars.”

   She said, “That's not going to get you a lot.”

   I said, “You know what I do? I can make grits.”

   You can make a lot of biscuits and grits for twenty-five dollars. I just announced it in church, that I was going into downtown Atlanta, and asked if anyone wanted to go with me. We went downtown and stopped, got out and opened my car doors; nobody was there. I got some stuff out of the trunk, turned around, and there was twenty-five people waiting in line to get food. We started feeding people out of the trunk of my car. We had businessmen that were in town on business that would see me and come over and say they’re from Cleveland, Ohio, and have never seen this kind of ministry before.

   I said, “Listen, Jesus shed his blood for us, but didn't shed his skin. When we're Born Again, we're all brothers and sisters at the foot of the cross.”

   Since I’ve prayed that prayer, I've led twenty thousand plus people to the Lord. I can say that humbly, because one of my ministers in Panama has led probably five thousand people to the Lord. I know it works, when you catch the vision of going out and telling people about Jesus. The first sermons I started preaching, was Revelation 20:15, “If your name is not found written in the Book of Life, you're thrown into the lake of fire.”

   Finally one day, one of my friends said, “Gary, you're not preaching love. I said, “Okay Lord, I'm not preaching love. What's with this?” He says, “That sermon is not for them, that sermon is for you. You have to understand if their name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life; I have to send them to hell. I don't want to, but I have to. If you know the answer, then you need to start telling the people.”

   I started praying and said, “Okay, God use me.”

   I started going to Atlanta Union Mission and every month for like four years; there would be thirty to seventy-five new people in that room. I asked, “Has anybody ever seen me before?”

   They said, “No, we’ve never seen you before.”

   I preached the Gospel and people were saved and people then started manifesting demonically. I didn't know what to do, and read the Bible. It's a very good book. It's has anointed teaching in it. I began with lots of prayer. Jesus is a great teacher. I'm telling you. He's a great one to follow. I started praying and had this crazy idea.

   I said, “God, I want to do this full-time.”

   I was paying for my own mission trips. I would go out of town, I would go to places. I would travel and on my vacations, we would do nothing but witness.

   Then I did something kind of crazy and said, “Lord, I want to know how to really be a positive witnesser.”

   I called up a Dallas Evangelism group that were Baptists and said, “I'm a crazy Pentecostal, but would you consider taking me under your wings for two mission trips?”

   They said, “We won't, but can you cut it down to one trip?”

   I said, “Okay.”

   They asked, “Can you not pray in tongues?”

   I answered, “That's going to be a hard one.”

   On the first trip, we ran an ad in a Latin American magazine looking for translators. I was going to Costa Rica with them. Betty Moody runs my ministry in the jungles of Panama, collected $40 for a bus, a boat, and a taxi, to ride ten hours to the city of Panama. She rode another bus for sixteen hours to come to Costa Rica, stood on a street corner one day when this crazy gringo and his wife, Gary and Charlene Vanover, would stop and pick her up. She became our translator for years, and we worked with her in the jungles of Panama. I still recall many crazy stories that came out of that.

   When we started praying about moving into full-time ministry, I asked, “God, use me. Would you use me?”

    He said, “Would I like for you to be a pastor over here at this Hispanic church.”

    I said, “But I don't speak Spanish.”

    He said, “Is that a problem?” I answered, “I don't know if it is or not.” God has a sense of humor because I spoke no Spanish and I became an associate pastor volunteer for a Spanish church. They were having a big church conference in Guatemala.

   The pastor said, “Hey, let's go.”

   I said, “Okay, I'll take Charlene.” At the same time, I was moving towards starting a ministry. I had been praying every night for a year and a half, “God use me, I want to be in full-time ministry, but you're going to have to do it. I have no money. I have no connections around the world; but if I become an international evangelist, everybody will know, ‘Hey isn’t that Jimmy Rogers’ barber?’ What in the world does he think he's doing? He's an international evangelist?” You have to line up with the vision that God wants you to have. I looked at that mountain many times and it looked like it was about to fall the wrong way. You keep speaking and you keep speaking and dreaming, and you will keep believing. One day I was invited to go to Guatemala after I had seen this crazy video about the miracle city of Almolonga. Anybody in here ever seen the video about the Miracle City of Almolonga? A little bit of a place in Guatemala where they had incredible rare forms of cancer. Nobody in the village was saved. Everybody was poor. There were many drunks lying on the streets everywhere, four jails, 20,000 people, and a godless place.

   This pastor and his wife started praying with four intercessors, “God use me.” 

   I told my wife, “I'd like to go to Guatemala and find this pastor because, at the end of five years of this prayer that he prayed, rare forms of cancer were gone. All the drunks were no longer drunk. All the jails closed up. Seventeen-year-olds that were dying of cirrhosis of the liver, it cleared up.

   But the amazing thing that happened in the fifth year of the prayer, the molecular structure of the dirt changed overnight. What used to take sixty days to go to harvest, and then took forty-five days, is now twenty-five days.

   I said, “God, I'm going to Guatemala. I'm looking this guy in the face and I want him to tell me that through prayer, things can be transformed?”

   That's what I did. I'm an old Georgia boy and I'm not the smartest guy in the boat the whole time, but I forgot to take the pastor's name. I forgot the pastor's church name. I did remember the name of the city. I did remember that. At the same time, I wanted God to give me a name of the ministry. The pastor from the little Hispanic church in Georgia was supposed to go with me, but he came into the airport crying.

    He said, “The Lord said to release you and send you out for your own divine appointments because I want Gary to know I have his back. I've got him.”

   As I travel around the world, from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Ghana, Zambia, and other parts of Africa, and eventually Cuba, I started seeing amazing things. I always go back to the love of the Father God and the word of my testimony. My testimony is: I overcame by the blood of the Lamb. All these things that I asked God for, the salvations and everything else, I’m not through. I don’t want to die anytime soon. I’m ready to go to Heaven. But you know, we have so much to do here. If you wake up and say, “God, what’s my direction today? God use me.”

Gary Vanover Hearing His Voice Testimony 

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