Dr. Keith Bailey served as a pastor, missionary to Native Americans, District Superintendent, and Vice President of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. He informally mentored me periodically throughout my ministry, especially stirring in me a love for Alliance theology, heritage, healing and spiritual warfare ministry. Having grown up in the Alliance in Western PA, I started corresponding with him in 1973 when he was a district superintendent.
When I applied for licensing credentials in the Southwestern District in 1975, I was suspect because I had gone to Oral Roberts University, so I was turned down because I was too “charismatic.” So I began pastoring in the United Methodist Church, but really wanted to be back in in the Alliance. By 1977 Dr. Bailey had become VP of North American Ministries of The Alliance. I found out that Dr. Bailey prayed in tongues in his devotional prayer life and presented a paper to the Alliance District Superintendents on tongues and the charismatic movement.
So I arranged to meet with Dr. Bailey at an Alliance campground where he was speaking in 1978 while I was visiting my parents in Western Pennsylvania. I spent 2 hours with Dr. Bailey sharing with him my own experience and beliefs and he shared with me his experience. Both of our experiences of the value of praying in tongues in our devotional life were similar. He stressed the importance of the baptism in the Spirit, and we agreed that we did not believe the Pentecostal insistence on tongues as the initial evidence. I asked him if on the basis of my experience and beliefs, would I fit in the Alliance? He replied, “We need young men like you in The Alliance.” That changed the trajectory of my career. So I met again with the licensing council and was approved in 1979.
It was several years before I saw Dr. Bailey again, but he mentored me through his books: Divine Healing: The Children’s Bread, required for ordination studies; Bringing Back the King; and Servants in Charge: A Training Manual for Elders and Deacons.
In the 1990s, each year at General Council, District Conferences, summer camps—wherever and whenever I had opportunity to talk with Dr. Bailey—I soaked in his wisdom, teachings, and tapes. Coming into the Alliance in the early 1940s out of the Brethren movement, he was filled with stories and teaching. He whetted my appetite for our rich Alliance heritage, and I dove headfirst into research. He talked about healing, and among other things, how his daughter-in-law was healed of schizophrenia. That was very meaningful to me since my mother was schizophrenic. And although my mother was never completely healed, I found through persistent prayer and binding spirits that would harass her, she would have periods of freedom—sometimes for years.
He also piqued my interest with his re-publication of the books of Alliance spiritual warfare pioneer John MacMillan, The Authority of the Believer and Encounter with Darkness (later published as one volume). Inexperienced in confronting occultic powers, he contacted MacMillan in the 1940s for counsel, and for two years he communicated with him by phone and letter, being personally mentored in the ministry of deliverance. I learned much from Dr. Bailey about spiritual warfare, spiritual discernment, and the ministry of John MacMillan. Dr. Bailey wrote the booklet 10 Steps for Deliverance Ministry and the book Strange Gods: Responding to the Rise of Spirit Worship in America.
As with many mentors and mentees, we did not agree on everything, but I respected him highly. Eventually, in his later years after retiring, he left the Alliance for a Dunkard Brethren group again, even growing the distinguished long Dunkard beard. He thought the Alliance had become too liberal, among other things allowing contemporary worship and consecrating women to ministry. It seemed he was trying to revert back to the 1940s when he first came into the Alliance. I was deeply saddened; I had lost a friend and mentor. I did contact him a couple of times for some Alliance history research questions, and he was very gracious and positive with his characteristic chuckle. He passed away at the age of 91, and I still esteem him greatly for all that he contributed to the Alliance over 47 years and all that he had poured into me.