Welcome to Antioch, Washington. A small, sleepy, farming community a few square miles in size. In this town folks all know one another and everything marches along in its usual slow, humdrum pace. It's funny that in such a small community, there are so many religious factions. Pentecostals, Catholics, Methodists, Episcopalians, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians. You wouldn't think a town this small could support so many groups. Well, it seems that everyone is looking and searching for connection with their God and their Christ. Then without warning, over the course of a few weeks, folks in Antioch start noticing what appear to be divine signs. A weeping crucifix. Messages in the clouds. Angelic visitors that warn of a coming prophet. All of this captures the town's attention and serves to unify all of the disparate groups.
So begins the story of The Visitation by Frank Peretti. After the signs have gotten everyone's attention, a prophet named Brandon Nichols appears. In fact, he seems like more than a prophet. Could he be Christ himself? It certainly appears so. He speaks to people about their most personal conflicts. He heals. He teaches and brings the diverse townspeople together under one church umbrella. The start of a true Christian revival is afoot.
However, as Brandon Nichols builds up his ministry and works to consolidate his power, we start to get a sense that he might not be who he claims to be. The hero of the story is a burned-out and frustrated ex-preacher named Travis Jordan. The more Travis and his group find out about Brandon, the more this prophet is revealed as a megalomanical sadist. As Brandon's power and popularity start to slip away, the more desperate he becomes to preserve it.
This story was very well told and well paced. Peretti has crafted an intricate plot with a well-developed protagonist in Travis Jordan and antagonist in Brandon Nichols. I love how he brought us through the past of these characters to allow us to understand how they came to be who they are today. A great read.