This book seeks to glorify God in concrete ways by discussing miracles and other answers to prayer with their contexts in Bebe (Harrison) Patten's life. The text should interest both young and older Christians as it confirms the truths of Scripture. As Bebe is being filled with the Holy Spirit at age 16, she hears God's promise to use her to build a school for ministers and other Christian workers. A central event in the book sets the usual "runaway" story on it head. In leaving home to prepare for her ministry, she is running toward the Father and to the truth. Her unbelieving parents, unable to understand her new-found love in her religious experience ("craziness" to them), are ultimately converted to Christ. The 16-year-old girl evangelist exemplifies courage and conviction, with natural and spiritual gifts, the latter being motivational springs from God that keeps her all her life. The book is filled with other conflicts, as Bebe must believe God for everything, sometimes even food and rent. She becomes an example not only of faith but of great perseverance in faith, as she continues to believe God's promise for the rest of her life. having no other financial support. Bebe Patten predated the feminist revolution in the U.S. by at least 30 years, proclaiming women's rights, including the right to preach in the early 1930s. And with that message, she spoke out against racial segregation. Her ministry takes the reader back to a pre-television, pre-technology-gadget era when many more people went to church and believed in God and the Bible. The persecutions she suffered are also reminiscent of an earlier age; yet she never lost sight of her mission to establish a school. That school is now Patten University. She experienced the value that all things are possible with God. The book will appeal to a wide range of Christians.
The content of this book is unique (Whoever heard of a promise of God to a 16-year old girl being the primary force in the founding of an accredited university?) Patten University was born in the heart of 16-year-old Bebe Harrison as she was being baptized in the Holy Spirit with power for her already successful evangelistic ministry. She heard the voice of God, "Be faithful to Me and someday I'll use you to build a school for the training of ministers and Christian workers." The book traces the main events leading up to the fulfillment of that promise and more. The reader should take away an experience of strengthened faith, the importance of "holding to one's dreams (though Bebe's was a revelation), of loving God more than family in order to do His work (Matthew 12:37), of persevering against impossible odds and triumphing in whatever one is called to do. The book discusses dozens of prayers in their context as Bebe was on her way to creating three institutions that are still pregnant with possibilities. In LIFE Bible College in Los Angeles, Bebe lived by faith, for there was no financial support from home. She was a "rebellious teenager" with a cause, yet she loved and prayed for her parents. Having graduated from LIFE Bible College in 1933, she conducted national evangelistic campaigns, sometimes speaking to thousands each night. Then came Oakland, California in her Nineteen Week Revival, with several thousand attending each week and an estimated 7,000 converts. There she heard again the voice of promise she heard at age 16: "This is the city. Here I will use you to build a school for ministers to glorify My Name." How Bebe rejoiced! Fifteen years had passed since God spoke to her heart about a school that He would give her. He had been totally faithful to His promise. Through many answers to prayer, Bebe and her husband opened the Oakland Bible Institute in 1944 with 300 students. With no denomination or other source of support, the Pattens lived by the faith that Bebe had learned. That institute became Patten University (regionally accredited). Bebe was a woman of deep faith, a fighter and an achiever. She was also a liberated woman, liberated by Christ, believing God in a man's world of ministry (1930s) despite trials and persecutions, including three arson fires labeled by city fire officials as "set." Bebe founded the Bible Institute, Christian Cathedral Church and Patten Academy (K-12), all in 1944. Until 1961 the institutions were housed in leased buildings, but in 1957 the church bought a 2.25 acre campus and built its first building. Today, because of answers to prayer and miracles, the main campus covers about eight acres, with 23 buildings. Several other properties, including dorms are owned near the campus. Faith, which produces works, built the campus and buildings. This book provides one solution to a family situation where reason and faith are at loggerheads, for 16-year-old Bebe's family are unbelievers. Bebe's solution was a decision arrived at and supported by faith. Her decision leading to her Baptism in the Holy Spirit is probably not rare, but her hearing the voice of God making a promise to her of a school is exceedingly rare. Few today will have an experience like Bebe's with a specific promise and a specific answer. However, almost any Christian reader could profit from Bebe's faith, her faithfulness to her vow, her steadfastness in persecution, her perseverance never doubting, and her courage. I believe she is an example to all who have a vision that requires relinquishment of self for a higher good. Her evangelistic career (she remains an independent for life) poses impossible odds, yet she is faithful to her commitment and experiences incredible fulfillment. Of course there are many books on prayer that I have read, but not one is like this one. It is unique.
Dr. Glenn Kunkel is a retired English professor who taught for 38 years in Patten Academy and Patten College. He was a participant-observer in the Bebe Patten ministries for more than 50 years. He is also the author of Winning the Race: The Ministries of Dr. Bebe Patten.