In 1981, I was temporarily living with some friends in Oklahoma. I went to church with them only to find out that it was a Charismatic church – gasp!. Being raised Baptist, I believed all of the Gifts of the Spirit, especially tongues, had passed away with the Apostles. I sat in the back of the church with my friends and my wife (also Baptist) just waiting for the service to end, so I could get out of that awful place. After the service, the preacher asked me and my wife to come forward for “a word from the Lord”. This was our first visit, so he didn’t know us, nor we, him. He got us in a huddle so no one else could hear what was being said and told us that God had told him we had a particular problem that was weighing heavily upon us. He was very specific about the problem. How could he know? No one knew about it but my wife and me. He then told us that God told him the problem would be solved Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday afternoon, our problem was solved! Now I decided to pay attention to this man that had God’s ear.
About 2 weeks later at the Sunday evening service, the preacher said that “Someone here needs to be filled with the Holy Ghost”. The church only had about 20 people in attendance, so I knew he was talking about me. I slowly walked up there and silently prayed,”Lord, You know I don’t believe in this stuff, but if it is real and You want me to have it, OK. But, I want to hear the mighty rushing wind and speak in tongues. You can forget about the tongues of fire, because I wouldn’t be able to see them anyway.” I really said that to God. Several of the elders took me into the side room, sat me down on a chair, laid hands on me and began to pray. I suddenly felt like I was falling in space. Then I heard a very loud sound of wind and someone speaking in tongues. It was me!. I had passed out – what I later learned was being slain in the Spirit, something I had never heard about before. When I came to, I was speaking in tongues fluently and the sound of the “mighty rushing wind” filled the room. The elders with me heard the wind, too. They said they had never experienced that before. The people still in the sanctuary also heard the wind. None of them knew what I had asked God before going in the side room. But everyone knew something special had happened that night in that little church in Gotebo, Oklahoma.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is a lot like the trip Antonio took. He was born and raised in a small Italian village. Antonio decided to save his money so he could move to America, a land where dreams could come true. He saved his money for several years until he finally could afford the ticket for the boat. Antonio took several salamis, some cheese and bread and a jug of wine for the trip across the ocean. He would walk the deck sometimes and see all the other people in the fancy dining room, eating wonderful meals. Then he’d go back to his room and have his meager meal. Finally, they arrived in New York, in America. Antonio gathered his belongings and went up on deck. The Steward saw him and asked why he hadn’t joined everyone for dinner. Antonio told the Steward that he only had enough money to purchase his ticket, with nothing left over for food on board. The Steward said, “Oh, Antonio. All meals are included in the price of your ticket.” So it is with being a Christian. You can take your journey here on earth, looking forward to the day to reach Glory, OR you can take advantage of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and enjoy the Power and Love of God while you make your journey.