In early 1975, Elliott Moses Hightower received a phone call from Brother Julio Jaramillo, who had responded to a want ad in the Houston Post that Brother Hightower had placed for a transcriber. When Brother Hightower answered the phone, Julio stated, “God told me to call you!” They later met, and Julio preached to him on a street corner of Houston, Texas and told him that he saw spirits trying to gain control of his mind. He also told Brother Hightower that he needed the Holy Ghost to have power over these spirits. He then told him that once he was baptized in Jesus Name, he would receive the Holy Ghost and would have power like Peter and like Paul. Something inside of him said, “I want that power!” Julio took him to Irvington United Pentecostal Church, pastored by Brother C.L. Dees. During the service, Brother C.L. Dees baptized him in lovely name of Jesus. After drifting to Los Angeles, California, Brother Hightower finally made it back to Texas.
Once back in Huntsville, Texas, he met Thelma Viney on November 6, 1975 and witnessed the truth to her. He invited her to attend a church like the one he had been baptized in. That night Brother Don Grigsby was preaching a sermon entitled, “The Promise Is To You, The Holy Ghost.” Brother Elliott Moses Hightower and Sister Thelma Viney were both filled with the Holy Ghost on November 30, 1975, at Life Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church, in Huntsville, Texas, under the ministry of Brother W. L. Mott. Sister Thelma Viney was baptized in the name of Jesus on December 3, 1975. Elliott and Thelma were married forty-nine days later on December 25, 1975.
Brother Hightower was unemployed until November, 1976. He saw a job offer for the City of Huntsville in the Huntsville Item Newspaper. This offer was for someone who would work for the City Manager and required a strong Math background. The Lord spoke to Brother Hightower and told him to apply because the job was his, if he wanted it. Therefore, Brother Hightower applied for the job and was hired right away. Three months later Brother Hightower received a phone call from his Best Man in his wedding, named Jack Branch in reference to a teaching position open in the Texas Department of Corrections. He applied for the job and was hired to teach Math.
Brother Hightower became involved in and began to minister in prison ministry in the Texas Department of Corrections where he was already a schoolteacher. Brother Hightower and Sister Hightower were both involved in ministry in the nursing homes in Huntsville, Texas.
In 1980, the Lord led them to follow and help their assistant pastor, Brother Don Grigsby, in his work to build a church in Madisonville, Texas. They labored together with Brother Grigsby in Madisonville until in September 1982, when they responded to the Lord’s call, from the previous month, for Brother Hightower to evangelize while ministering at the United Pentecostal Church Conference on Evangelism into the Black Community, which was held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Interestingly enough, Brother Hightower was not going to attend this conference because his job would not let him off with pay. When Sister Hightower insisted that she was going with or without him, he decided that he was going to go without pay.
The United Pentecostal Church’s General Superintendent, the late Nathan A. Urshan felt led of the Lord that Brother Hightower needed to minister during the conference. He had heard Brother Hightower minister at a previous Black Evangelism Conference, in St. Louis, Missouri. Brother Jack DeHart stated that he would relinquish his spot to allow Brother Hightower to minister. The late Brother Danny Brown, of New Orleans, Louisiana, approached Brother Hightower and asked him if he believed in being instant in season and out of season. Brother Hightower replied, “Yes”. Brother Brown stated, “Well, you will be preaching this afternoon.” Prior to the conference Brother Hightower had felt led to bring the notes to a sermon that the Lord had given him. The title of the sermon was “The Scaffold of His Love”.
At the end message, the Lord spoke through a word of prophecy through Brother Danny Brown and Brother Jack Yonts that the Lord was calling Brother Hightower to the evangelistic field. Brother N.A. Urshan stated, “RIGHT NOW” and confirmed this prophecy. Brother Urshan set up Brother Hightower’s first revival with his son, Nathaniel Paul Urshan at White Haven United Pentecostal Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
Brother Hightower returned home to Huntsville, Texas, resigned his teaching job, and prayed for a miracle. He received a phone call from his mother-in-law, Ethel Freeman, who asked how he was going to evangelize in the small Datsun car with 2 small children. She stated that she had just put the down payment on a brand new Park Avenue Buick, and for them to come pick it up and pay the notes on it and go preach the word.
The Hightowers didn’t even have enough money to make it to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to pick up the vehicle, because the Texas Department of Corrections had withdrawn his check and stated that they would pay him at the end of the next month because he had taken time off without pay, and it should have been docked from his next check, but he came back and had resigned. A co-worker, the late Olethia Garrett, gave them the money for their travel expenses and went with them to pick up the car. Upon arrival in Oklahoma City, Sister Freeman was told of what Brother Hightower’s employer had done with his check. She asked how much was the check? They stated $1,000. She pulled out her checkbook and wrote a check for $1,000, and said when you get your check use it to evangelize on.
During their first revival in Memphis, which started on September 15, 1982, the Lord demonstrated his power. A man possessed with the devil came to the service to disrupt it and to make his wife leave. He had been a drug dealer in the City and had been known to whip at least 10 policemen at one time single-handedly. When Evangelist Hightower laid hands on his wife to pray for her to receive the Holy Ghost, he climbed over the pew and hit Evangelist Hightower and stated, “Get your hands off my wife!” The ushers told Evangelist Hightower to go ahead and pray with others in the congregation. While praying with others, Evangelist Hightower noticed that the man had moved out of the pew and was coming towards him. When the man got about 10 feet away from Evangelist Hightower, the man was frozen in his tracks. Others went and laid hands on him while he was frozen, and the man began to foam at the mouth and began to speak in tongues. After he spoke in tongues, the man asked, “Where’s the preacher? I want to talk to the preacher.” When Evangelist Hightower arrived, the man embraced him and asked, “Please forgive me, please forgive me. I was full of the devil.” He then stated, “I want to give you the honor of baptizing me in Jesus name!”
From that revival and the prior Black Evangelism Conference, Evangelist Hightower sprung forth to preach on the evangelistic field. He preached across the United States, Canada, (British Columbia) and England. During his ministry he financially supported missionaries like Bro. Stewart in Liberia, Africa, and Bro. Picasso in Tijuana, Mexico, as well as many home missionaries, churches, and ministries.
In October 1988, Pastor (Evangelist) Hightower preached at the Untied (United) Pentecostal Church International’s General Conference at the Salt Palace, in Salt Lake City, Utah in front of thousands of people. He preached a message that touched many. It was entitled, “Great Grace”. The sermon was so memorable that many people still refer back to it today, and are inspired. After the conference, Evangelist Hightower came to Los Angeles County to preach revivals in several churches.
He evangelized for seven years, and then in August 1989, settled down to pastor a congregation at Calvary Evangelism Center in Sacramento, California. A revival was held first before his new congregation was started. The congregation’s first service was held January 8, 1990. During their ministry in Sacramento the Lord used them to start 2 other daughter works, “The House of Refuge and The Living Word.” Those congregations were later dissolved and the members incorporated into the main daughter work. The main daughter congregation was eventually renamed The Living Word Congregation.
In August 1995, the Lord led Pastor Hightower to take the offer to be pastor of the Grace Pentecostal Church in Glendale California, where he had years before preached a revival. During his revival at Grace Pentecostal Church in 1989, the Lord had given the church a prophecy that multitudes would come to that church. Earlier in 1995, Pastor and Sister Hightower were discussing the church where the prophecy had gone forth and he stated “if that church ever came open that he would like to pastor it”, because of the prophecy given. He told Sister Hightower that he wondered what had ever happened to that church. She state, let’s find the pastor and ask, but they couldn’t remember the name of the City. She looked in the old minister’s manual and found the pastor and the city’s name. Then they found out who the current pastor was.
Later that same week Pastor Hightower attended the Calvary Evangelism Center Pastoral Staff Meeting where he heard that there would be a new pastor coming on staff. Then to his surprise he heard that the pastor was Pastor Stone of GLENDALE! The church that he had just been talking of. He told the staff of the prophecy that had gone forth during his revival at Glendale and Senior Pastor Allan Abbey stated, “You need to go preach a revival there.” It was decided that he would pastor the Glendale Church, as well as the Living Word Congregation. For 5 years Pastor and Sister Hightower traveled weekly between Sacramento and Glendale, California, a distance of over 375 miles to minister in the two cities. Grace Pentecostal Church was eventually renamed to the Living Word Worship Center at Glendale.
In November, Pastor Hightower was asked by a missionary to come to South Africa to preach their conference. He felt it was the will of God; therefore, he and Sister Hightower began to pray for their finances to make the trip. They had one day left before the prices changed for the airline special. We called to tell our friend (Barbara), whom we had met at the Christian Bookstore in Glendale and had been working on a temporary job there in Glendale, but had returned back home to New Braunsfel, Texas. Without hesitation, she said I can take care of that on my credit card, and we can worry about paying for it later. She was given the flight information and paid for our tickets right away. The next day one of Barbara’s friends, named Naomi (who had visited our church one time) called me (Thelma) to come down the street to her apartment for coffee. I told her about our upcoming trip to South Africa, and she said my husband and I want to help you go. She gave me enough money to cover the cost of our airline tickets and we had over $500.00 left for spending change. Therefore, in December 1995, Pastor Hightower preached the South African General Conference in Durbin, South Africa, again in front of thousands of people. He also preached for the church in Mafaking, pastored by the late, Sister Wilma Ruth Nix.
In December 2000, the Lord the opened the door and allowed Pastor Hightower to go full-time in Glendale. In August 2002, God impressed Pastor Hightower to move the congregation to Lancaster, California where most of the members were now residing.
The Lord has continued to do a work and bless the Living Word Worship Center.