Grant Lovell AME Church, Moberly, MO
and Bethel AME Church, Macon, MO
A Testimony for Jesus
After the 2022 Quarterly Conference in St. Louis Missouri AME
District, I was on my way home in my cleric outfit with my black suit
and white collar. I decided to go home and change my outfit to regular
clothes before I went to Spectrum to pay one of our churches’ telephone
bill. I was about to make a turn heading home when I heard this voice
distinctly saying, “Are you ashamed of me?” I instantly knew the voice
because I have heard that voice many times instructing me. I know what
he said a while ago regarding a person who is unwilling to share his
message. I can also discern the Voice of Jesus because he uses Bible
verses, or his message reflects Bible verses when he speaks to me. This
message reminded me of this verse in the Bible:
“Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful
generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when he comes in the
glory of his Father with the holy angels” Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26.
Without a doubt, I knew who was talking and I was not talking to
myself. In response, I said nothing because I knew the rebuke was
I also realized part of my major assignment as a pastor of two churches
is to share Jesus’ message. I did not say anything because I knew I was
Then the voice added, “Don’t you realize when you wear your cleric
outfit in the public you are preaching my gospel message?”
As soon as I heard those statements, I did not argue, complain or find an
excuse. I turned my car around and headed to the Spectrum office where
I was supposed to pay the church telephone bill, still in my cleric outfit.
Undoubtedly, the Lord knows my mind more than I understand. I hate
wearing my cleric outfit in the public and people looking at me. I just
feel so uncomfortable with people staring at me due to what outfit I have
on me. This uncomfortable feeling started in the church I grew up when
my father was considered an associate pastor because he conducted
prayer meetings every morning in the church. He was also a Lay Reader
- - like an associate pastor in an Anglican Church. Our family was well
known in the church because my great-grandparents were the founding
members of those who built the original church. The church is still
thriving today. My parents on both sides held important positions in the
church while my grandfather from the mother’s side was the chair of the
church Parochial Committee.
At that time, I felt being well-known in the church was really a curse.
Why? Because everybody tried to get into your business! And I hated to
be singled out at Sunday School and other church events. Our family
names from both my father’s and mother’s sides followed me
everywhere. People always wanted to tell me what to do. I had no
privacy because our house was down the street from the church. Church
members come to our house all the time and my grandfather never stop
having church meetings. So, overwhelmed with so much attention and
love, it drove me crazy and stripped me of privacy. I will rather blend
into a group where nobody notices me than people always trying to
identify me as one of the Vidals, or Thomas from my mother’s side. I’m
proud of my parents’ names and being a Christian, but people expect
higher standards because we are always in the limelight of Christian
ministry. I hated this as a young person growing up in the church. My
older brother was also the church assistant organist and the captain of
the church youth organization. I was also a member of our mega church
choir with my other siblings. If I did something wrong in Sunday
School, the bad news would reach home before I got home!
As a result of this background of overexposure in the church, I hated to
be noticed in the public. I wanted to blend into the crowd. But, when you
are wearing a cleric outfit pumping gas at a gas station, getting hot dogs
to eat on the road while heading to the assigned churches to conduct
Sunday worship service, you become the staring attention of the
The question Jesus asked me, “Are you ashamed of me?” directly
addressed my discomfort wearing my cleric outfit in the public. From
that day, I started to feel more comfortable wearing Jesus’ outfit in the
public to preach his message. One thing I’m careful about is never
ignoring the importance of a good tip to waiters at the restaurant when I
stopped to eat with my wife on our way back home every Sunday from
the two churches. I don’t want to give Jesus a bad name by making the
waiters angry with small tips while I’m wearing my cleric outfits
representing Jesus. Perhaps some ministers will advocate for big
donations in the church on Sundays. But, giving a good tip to waiters,
hotel housekeeping people, taxi drivers, delivery guys, etc. is also a
wonderful way to make Jesus proud.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven” St. Matthew 5:16.
Paraphrasing, Jesus was saying, “Don’t embarrass me in public if you
are representing me.”
Yikes! We go to a restaurant in our church outfit, with the wife wearing
that flamboyant church hat, and giving the waitress a hard time because
the steak is too done, or she forgot the French fries, or we received the
wrong salad dressing. And we ended up making an ugly scene at the
restaurant while others looked on. We claim to be wearing Jesus with
our church outfit on Sunday after service! We, therefore, want special
treatment at the restaurants. Lord have mercy!
One of my daughters used to work at a restaurant while she was in
school. She told me the church folks are the ones who gave them the
toughest time as waitresses. Consequently, they dreaded church folks
coming to the restaurants on Sundays after service.
In response to Jesus challenging me because of this cleric outfit incident,
I decided to correct the error by feeling comfortable wearing my cleric
outfit in the public. While at the gas station on the road, while pumping
gas, or buying hot dogs in my cleric outfits, I also wear a smile for Jesus
not knowing who is looking. I know Jesus is watching. Months later, the
Lord placed in my heart to start a campaign for Jesus with polo shirts in
both my churches in Moberly and Macon. I had no idea what I was
supposed to do with this campaign until the Lord started to expand the
campaign at each level. At the 168 Missouri Annual Conference, the
Polo Shirt and Jacket Campaign for Jesus came to St. Louis.
On both shirts and jackets is the representation of the Trinity.
“To God be the Glory” represents God the Father.
“The Cross” represents Jesus the Son.
“The name of the Churches” represents the time the Holy Spirit arrived
on the Day of Pentecost while people were praying.
Similarly, the Holy Trinity is presented in Revelation 22:1 where it
says, “The river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the
throne of God and of the Lamb.”
Jesus explained what the rivers of living water meant.
Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me,
and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his
belly shall flow rivers of living water.”- John 7:37-38
Verse #39 explains, But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that
believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given;
because that Jesus was not yet glorified.
So, in Revelation 22:1 We see the representation of the Father, Son, and
the Holy Spirit, the same way anybody who wears the polo shirt and
jacket will display before the nation, preaching the gospel of Christ.
Every time I wear my polo shirt or jacket, I receive many positive
responses from people. One woman came to me as I was standing in the
bank line, bowed before me with a smile, and left. At Costco, a young
white lady I never met in my life looked me with a smile and said,
“How’re you?” I thought she knew a member of one of my churches or
she was present at the wedding I conducted a couple of months earlier.
Later, I realized I was wearing my cleric even without my white collar.
At one time, I was coming out of the gas station after paying for my gas
a middle age white male held the door for me. Many people along the
way will say, “How’re you?” with a smile. Some try to avoid me.
One of the most profound experiences I had, was when I traveled from
St. Louis to one of my churches. I was coming out of the car to enter the
church when an older white male was coming towards me. I look at his
face, he was weeping and trembling. In a whispering voice, he said,
“Can I join your church family?” I was in my cleric outfit of course it
I responded to him, “Come join us for service.”
He asked, “When is your service?”
I said, “At 10 am.”
“I will be there,” he said.
I was not sure whether this man was going to come to church or not.
But, when the service started, this older white male came to church and
sat at the back. Immediately, I stopped the service and asked him to
come forward so I could pray for him because of the emergency nature
of his problem. I rested my hand on him and asked the rest of the church
members to surround him. We prayed for him. While we were paying
for him. This frail-looking white male was just weeping like a baby as
he knelt at the altar. Interestingly, many of the church members knew
him because he lived across the street from the church. He said to me
that he believed in God but never set foot in the church for the past 50
What brought this man to church was itself a giant testimony for Christ.
About a week before this incident, I had a dream. I was standing in front
of my house when a car pulled up. When the car left a dead body
wrapped in a shroud was dropped right in front of my house. I was so
amazed in that dream that why should anybody drop a dead body in
front of my house? While I was watching this dead body, I noticed a
slight movement around the head area. Following this, the head slowly
unwrapped. When his head was freed, the body stood up in the street. I
noticed it was a man dressed in a suit. He turned in the direction of my
house door, and I watched him as he walked into my house.
As soon I got up from the dream, I told my wife about this unusual
revelatory dream. I told her the dream is about spiritual empowerment.
Because after this man rose up from the dead three people who I believe
represented demonic spirits started to fight with me. I was shouting
saying “Call the police! Can somebody call the police!” Nobody could
hear me. I went to action in that dream and overpowered those three men
trying to attack me and they ran away. That was why I told my wife; I
believe it was a dream of spiritual empowerment.
However, I had no idea that the dream that I had about a week before
would play itself out exactly the same way in real life.
The frail old man that approached me as I was about to enter the church
that Sunday told me his wife has died months ago. He was so depressed,
that he tried to commit suicide. He told me that it was his sister who
found him, otherwise, he would have remained dead. So, the dead man
that I saw in that dream a week before was this old white guy the Lord
revealed to me who died and came back to life. In the dream, I saw him
entering my house, but in real life, he was actually entering the church to
worship with us.
The story about this older guy who requested to join our church family
appeared to be a Jesus parable to me, saying in my cleric outfit, “When I
am lifted up in the air, I will draw all men to me,” John 12:32.
Here is the resolution, the “Polo shirts and Jacket Campaign for
Jesus” that came to the 168 AME St. Louis Annual Conference in 2022
was not a man-made campaign. It was divinely inspired; a campaign
initiated by Our Savior Jesus himself. I wanted to give the testimony at
the conference but there was no provision for such. I, therefore, decided
to place this testimony on the Internet so everybody can read the
testimony and know the story behind the “Polo Shirt and Jacket
Campaign for Jesus.”
Update: On Wednesday, November 2, 2022, overnight, our house was
rattled by a divine visitation that shocked my wife and me. What
happened in the house that day can only be explained by the
supernatural power of the Almighty God as Jesus himself gave me two
important instructions. Those directions solved the lingering problems I
was confronted with at that time. Stay tuned for this report later.
As a shepherd in the earthly garden of the Almighty God created for His
Son Jesus, please, learn to hear the Voice of the Good Shepherd. And
follow his footsteps and the instructions given. We always pray that he
orders our footsteps. I also pray that he guides my directions. If we are
not careful, while following his instructions, our human desires can lead
us in the wrong direction. I don’t want to be a co-pilot, I want only Jesus
to fly that plane.
In one of His visitations, Jesus did not say, walk with me or walk in
front of me. He said, “If you want to follow me, deny yourself take up
your cross and follow after me” St. Matthew 16:24.
Some people have confused the cross he asked us to carry with the
challenges of life. From my personal experience of over 40 years in the
ministry starting from an Anglican Episcopal Church to a Baptist church
as an ordained deacon, and now at AME Church, this is a scriptural
error. The cross is the assignment given to us to serve his purpose with
the divine mantle given to each messenger. The challenges of life remain
the training grounds to strengthen us for the journey as the Holy Spirit
empowers us. Something to think about.
Rev. Victor Vidal, Pastor Grant Lovell AME Church, Moberly and
Bethel AME Church in Macon, Missouri.