Dr. K. Neill Foster was an international Alliance evangelist, Board of Directors member, and President of Christian Publications, Inc. (CPI), the Alliance publishing house. District Superintendent Dr. Loren Calkins, who had urged me to develop my writing gift, introduced me to Neil when he was speaking at a District Conference in 1993. Neill spoke on “The Authority of the Believer” and the spiritual warfare ministry of John MacMillan, Alliance missionary to China and the Philippines. He remarked he was looking for someone to write a biography of the life and ministry of MacMillan. I told him I loved to do research and would love to write that biography, but I was a bi-vocational revitalization pastor and did not have the time or resources to do so. He responded, “Show me your work and we will pray and see what happens.” This began our mentoring relationship in writing and publishing and launched my writing career.
Neill took me up on my love for research (genealogy was my hobby). Before the days of word search computer technology he hired me to compile an index of all of A.W. Tozer’s works. I loved the assignment—and got a free entire set of all Tozer’s works in the process. Then he hired me as an Adjunct Editor for CPI. I ended up doing a lot of research for several of his books, editing and ghost writing for other authors, and submitting articles to the Alliance Academic Review. In one academic article, I had written a paragraph in a footnote on “binding and loosing.” He told me, “I have been wanting to write a book on binding and loosing. Why don’t you write it with me?” And so, we co-authored the book Binding and Loosing: Exercising Authority Over the Dark Powers. I did the vast majority of the research and wrote the majority of the book, but since he was the publisher and fashioned the book the way he wanted it, his name appeared first and in larger letters. That was OK with me, because it launched me out there with my first book. When electronic formats arrived on the scene, we edited together a popular e-zine called Classic Christianity.
Then when I was working on my Doctor of Ministry degree, he said, “If you can convince the doctoral committee to let you do your doctoral dissertation on John MacMillan and his spiritual warfare ministry, we will publish it as a book. The Director of Doctoral Studies approved it, and since Neill held a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, he assigned Neill as my dissertation supervisor.
There were times I regretted this and wanted to pull out. Neill had his own idea of how this research should be done and, as a perfectionist, he was a stickler for details. Ordinarily, a D.Min. dissertation is a practical ministry project of 150-200 pages. Mine ended up being a Ph.D. dissertation in D.Min. dress—3 dissertations in one, for a total of 600+ pages! But out of that research came the book A Believer with Authority: The Life and Message of John A. MacMillan, for which I received the Pardington Academic Prize. Neill’s mentoring led to several more books, speaking engagements and articles as an academic authority on spiritual warfare, healing, ministry and leadership development, and Alliance heritage, resulting in receiving the Oral Roberts University 2006 Scholar of the Year award.
As Neill viewed everything in black and white, and I would nuance various shades of color (but not 50 shades of grey) and suggest a middle ground, sometimes we disagreed strongly. We worked on another book together, but we had enough differences that neither one of us wanted my name on the book. We both spoke in tongues in our devotional prayer, but he was more negative about charismatic manifestations than I. He wanted to bring me on to take his place when he retired from CPI, but Neill was not one to negotiate, so it did not work out. It was for the best, for after he retired two years later, CPI folded, and God opened many other doors for me, both inside and outside the Alliance.
Neill and I continued to dream about projects we could do together—publish more of MacMillan’s works, put together a biblical commentary on spiritual warfare, and more, but he passed away on my birthday—May 15, 2006. His legacy in the Alliance is large, as well as his impact upon my life. Even though we had our differences, I am deeply grateful for his investment in me, his friendship and mentorship, and in his confidence in my research, writing, and leadership. It has resulted in 12 books and more to come.