I came into Christianity through the Pentecostal gate and I still believe that I was baptized in the Holy Spirit 6 weeks after coming to Jesus. You may remember that in my article, What Convinced Me, I mentioned that my sister directed me to ask God for this baptism thing. I knew nothing about it. I knew that I was truly ‘born again’. So here is what happened when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Ever since my sister told me to ask God for this baptism in the Holy Spirit, I had been asking. I also had been trying to figure out what it was, without too much success. I learned that you speak in tongues when you get it. I was taught this by a Pentecostal church that we attended in Quilcene Washington. A lady, who was viewed as a prophetess, would round up us hippies in Port Townsend and take us to church there. The pastor (or was it pastoress?) was a lady from the south, she spoke with a odd southern accent. She would beat her tambourine with gusto throughout the service. Her husband was never seen to say a word. He usually sat at the back unless he was playing his violin. His ears were quite noticeable as the tips were bent down like they were ‘dog-eared’.
Every now and then the prophetess lady would pour out a speech in King James-like-English that was filled with dire warnings and promises of blessing for obedience. Her voice, without any microphone, would completely fill the room. When she spoke most of us would turn introspective, examining our own hearts. I usually did not know enough about what she was saying or how it applied to make any connections with my own life. I just smiled a lot and watched.
One time a guy stood up and wanted to apologize to the church for something. He was invited to come up and speak from the pulpit. As he was trying to get across why he was offended and how it got solved, the lady pastor beat her tambourine at the back of the stage. Finally this guy got ticked and asked her to stop. She said that she would not stop because God was giving her insight into his life, and she hit the tambourine even harder. This really offended this guy, and to be heard over her tambourine and shouts of hallelujah and bless the Lord, he stood on the pulpit to get his point across, but to no avail. He could not compete with her and left the church.
Another time the lady pastor and visiting ministry decided that everyone who wanted a demon cast out of them should come forward. It looked like a good thing to do because, after all, who would want a demon inside of them, making them do bad things? Nearly everyone came forward. I went too, not to be left out. When it came our turn to be prayed for, they would make a cross on our foreheads with their fingers that they had dipped in oil, and lay their hands on our heads and speak in languages I knew to be tongues. The word ‘shondai’ was heard a lot. When they were done casting demons out of the congregation, they proceeded to cast demons out of each other. This was indeed a mystery.
On Wednesday, February 10, 1971,we had a visiting ministry from Port Angeles come to speak to us. His topic was the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I was so glad as I had been fasting for this. On Monday I had decided to go on a three day fast for the Baptism, starting Tuesday. Now this was the second day of my three day fast. Earlier that day I had been speaking to some kids on the street about Jesus. Things were going well until some joker came up and started to rip into me, tearing apart what I was saying with logic I couldn’t compete with. He wound up taking the whole crowd away from me, laughing.
I had heard that this Baptism thing gave you power to tell people about Jesus. I really wanted that. I also thought it would be cool to speak in a language I didn’t know. This preacher told us all about it. When he was done with his message, he asked if there was anyone in the audience who wanted to receive it, to lift their hand. My hand shot up as is if pulled by a string. He then asked those of us who had raised our hands to stand. I stood with the same alacrity. I remember thinking, what is all this delay about? He then asked those of us who were standing if we would come down to the front. I was the first person there. They had me get down on my knees to pray.
As I knelt there in the front of that church, people began to give me advise. Some would say hold on, others would say let go, others told me to pray out loud, others said something different. I felt as if I should be sorry and cry because of my sin. Yet I felt nothing. I said to the Lord, “What a schmuck I am, I cannot even cry.”
As soon as I said this to the Lord, I felt words beginning to form in the back of my mind. I spoke them out. Someone lifted my hands into the air. I held them there and spoke these words even more loudly. Before long I was shouting in tongues. I shouted for about a half an hour, until I was hoarse. It was glorious! The whole room looked like it was filled with a golden glow. I felt waves of love flow through my emotions. I began to ask people their names and introduce them to others, who they probably already knew. But I did not care or notice. I just felt so much love.
I wondered where my sister and brother-in-law were. I could not find them anywhere. Turns out that in the midst of my baptism I did not notice that my sister’s water broke as she was praying for me. They were able to clean it up and take her to the hospital without me noticing. A short time later little Naarah was born. Beth and Naarah came home the next morning.
I didn’t want to stop speaking in tongues. When at the end of the service they began to sing some songs I didn’t know, which was really common, I just sang along in tongues. I could hardly wait to go out onto the street the next day and tell people about Jesus.
But what was I going to do about the third day of my fast? I had told the Lord that I would fast for three days, yet I received the baptism on the second. I broke the fast when I got home from church, yet I felt that I had done wrong. So I started my fast all over again the next day, fasting for three more days.
The next day I went out onto the street looking for someone to talk to about Jesus. I was in a gift shop when I met this girl who I struck up a conversation with. Quickly the topic turned to Jesus. She was hungry and pulled the words out of my soul. I poured and poured and she drank and drank. The people she was with had to drag her away to go where they needed to go. I felt the power of the Spirit helping me, giving me the words to say. So this was the power of the Spirit. I was so delighted!
I know that this story is not the usual story about how someone was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Because the church was so out of order it could reflect badly on my experience. But the fruit through the years since has been great. More reflections later.