Instantly Delivered and Healed
was born again and baptized in water at 10 years old in a little Baptist church in Joelton, Tennessee. My mother’s family was Baptist and was my guiding influence. I thought salvation was all I needed.
By the age of 12, I was pulling away from God. My life took a dark turn into the world of drugs and alcohol. For years I thought I was living the “good life.” But several of my friends died this lifestyle, and my life was falling apart, nearly ending in suicide.
Through all those years, I still heard God calling me. He never left me. By my mid-20s, I began to speak to the Lord again—sometimes out of desperation, and other times out of anger. I didn’t know if He would hear me or not. I only knew my life had to change.
Eventually I was blessed to meet a woman who helped me turn back to the Lord. She was a Pentecostal. We formed a relationship and have been married for 27 years now. She wanted to go to a Spirit-filled church, but I wanted to go to a Baptist church.
I asked God to show me where to go, and He led me to a Pentecostal church. During my third Sunday service there, the pastor preached his sermon followed by an altar call. I felt myself being tugged to the altar just as I had felt as a boy receiving salvation. I asked God for forgiveness and gave my life back to Him.
The pastor asked if I would like to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and I said yes. I threw up my hands and closed my eyes, lifting my heart toward heaven. I remember a feeling coming over me that I had never experienced in my life. I was filled with the Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues.
I walked out of the church that day and lit up a cigarette, as was my custom. After taking a draw, I turned to my wife and said, “I don’t smoke anymore.” Through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I was delivered from a heavy smoking addiction I had since I was 13. I have never smoked since that day nor had the desire.
Because I had smoked as much marijuana as cigarettes over the years, I had a terrible chronic cough. A few weeks later, it dawned on me that I had quite coughing! The Lord had delivered me from smoking and healed my lungs.—William Sloan Jr., pastor of the Portland, Tennessee, Church of God
Emptied, Then Filled
eceiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. It was in the late 1980s. I was a teenager in high school, attending revival services led by Evangelist Cliff West. Each night, the presence of the Holy Spirit was so strong, many of us found it hard to go home. Nightly, I and others would go to the altar seeking for the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Our Christian brothers and sisters were praying with us, encouraging us, but we always seemed to leave unfulfilled.
Brother West would always emphasize the importance of yielding yourself to God. Let there be no distractions, no worries about what you might look like or what you might say. Yield your words, your body, your praises all to God; let it just be you and Him.
One particular night after another long time at the altar, Brother West asked all of us who wanted the baptism to begin asking God to impress upon us one person who would be our prayer partner for the rest of the revival, at home and at the altar. I did what he asked, asking a dear woman of God to be my prayer partner.
The next night as she and I went to the altar together, I felt such peace and expectancy as I began to worship God and seek Him. Then, with all the distractions set aside, it happened. What an overwhelming and sweet encounter it was! There was a feeling of emptiness as I poured everything I had out to God, yet I was overflowing with His love and joy.
I had to come to a place where I wanted the baptism so much that I did not care what I looked or sounded like to others; it was only an audience of One I needed to stand before.
Since that time, the Holy Spirit has strengthened and comforted me in times of great need and sorrow. He has convicted me and shown me the error of my ways, even though I was blinded to it or it was something that seemed so insignificant. He has taught me to listen to and be led by His voice—sometimes to know when to speak and move, and other times when to be quiet and wait. I have found boldness to stand before others to proclaim His name, to teach, and to encourage others. Sometimes He gives me insight into situations or the feelings of others so I can speak into their lives a word from the Lord.—Terri Thorne, member of the Southside Church of God in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I Surrendered to God’s Will
was brought up in the traditions of the Church of God and the teachings of the Holiness Movement in the little country church known as Nix Chapel in Hamilton, Alabama. Even though I saw manifestations of the Holy Spirit take place there, I never realized the need to seek the baptism in the Spirit for my own spiritual growth. That changed, however, when I struggled with accepting God’s calling in my life.
I had been content to be just a good Christian who attended church and paid my tithes. There was a period when the Lord allowed me to do just that. However, as time went on, there was a supernatural drawing for me to change my worldview. I had believed going deeper with God was optional, not a requirement. But I finally realized this was the life God had always intended for me.
Six weeks before my future wife and I were engaged, I agreed to travel with her to the Alabama Church of God Youth Camp to serve as a cabin leader/counselor. She asked me to fast for blessings that week for the teens who were to be in our charge. I agreed, not knowing how profound this experience would be.
During the nightly worship services, I prayed for God’s blessings to be poured out on the youth. By the end of the week, campers and other staffers were praying for me to be filled with the Spirit. All the years of being resistant to receiving this gift was over, and I surrendered to God’s will for my life, instead of the other way around.
Over the next year, I developed a great appreciation for being filled with the Spirit. My ability to understand Scripture was enhanced, the desire to fast and pray increased, and my excitement to study the Bible grew by leaps and bounds. The desire to do more for others increased to the point where my calling into ministry was confirmed.
Other than accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior, becoming a Spirit-filled child of God has been the greatest transformational event in my life. The event continues even now, helping me to be more like Jesus and less like the world.—Nick Ray, pastor of Mitchell Chapel Church of God in Poplarville, Mississippi
A Hungry 13-Year-Old
s far back as I can remember, I have known the power of the Holy Spirit in my life. Growing up in the Church of God, I didn’t find Pentecostal worship unusual at all. Whether the choir was singing, “I Want the Light From the Lighthouse” or “Victory in Jesus,” my seeing someone dance in the Spirit or running the aisles was just part of Sunday worship. Hearing others pray in a heavenly language around the altar was sacred and special, and I still recall the hush that filled the church that night Sister Greene sang an entire song in tongues. The power of the Holy Spirit was present, and we sensed His presence each time we assembled on Skinner Street.
The plan of salvation was explained to me at a Free Will Baptist VBS I attended when I was 8 years old. By the time I was 13, I was seeking the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I was hungry for more of God, and I had been asking for this gift for several months.
Some of the details of the night I received this gift are a bit foggy now, but I remember being at a camp-meeting service in Eastern North Carolina. Reverend Franklin Hunt laid hands on me in the altar, and I instantly received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Though I had watched others from the sidelines, I had never experienced anything before like that moment when God filled me to overflowing with His Spirit.
A few years later while attending Summer Bible Institute in Charlotte, I stayed after service with several others to continue seeking the Lord. A friend who had wandered away from the Lord was heavy on my heart. As I interceded for him and prayed in the Spirit, I found yet another new place in God I hadn’t known existed.
Through the years as I’ve walked through peaks and valleys in my life, the Holy Spirit has always been “a very present help in [time of] trouble” (Psalm 46:1). When I traveled with my husband and children for several years, He was constant even on days when I was discouraged. When I lost my home to floodwaters and wasn’t sure which way to turn, the Holy Spirit brought peace about the direction we should take. When friends and family couldn’t answer questions about the hard places in life, I could always count on the Holy Spirit to comfort and instruct me, to bring correction when needed, and to hear me when I called.
I’m not sure how others make it in life without Him, but I am thankful for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, who is always with me!—Carolyn Smith, member of the Lion of Judah Community Church in Greenville, North Carolina
New Year, New Me
t was only two days into 2002, and I was still welcoming the fresh start. Little did I know my life was about to change. Along with a New Year, there was about to be a new me!
My pastor had invited our administrative bishop to host a district rally at our local church, and I was eager to hear the word Carl Hart would bring. As I sat in my pew, I could feel expectancy in the atmosphere. I will never forget that our choir opened with “Days of Elijah.” That night would be such a life-changing event, that even the minute details would remain etched in my memory.
As Brother Hart approached the pulpit, he came with a fire in his eyes and an intense anointing. He began to preach in detail about the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I clung to his every word. An insatiable thirst grew in me as he spoke. I sensed what David must have experienced when he proclaimed, “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you, in a dry and thirsty land with no water” (Psalm 63:1 MEV).
Like a parched soul on the backside of a desert, I longed for those promised living waters. At the altar call, I ran! I knew I needed to be baptized in the Spirit. Brother Hart pointed his finger at me and, with a voice of authority, instructed me, “Lift your hands to heaven like lightning rods!”
As I complied, the power of the Spirit surged through my body like electricity. For the first time, I could identify with what the disciples must have felt like in Acts 2 when the Spirit came in as a “rushing mighty wind.”
I could hear words trying to flow out of my mouth in a language I didn’t know. My pastor whispered, “Just let the Holy Ghost take control.”
Almost instantly, heavenly language poured like rain from my mouth and I began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance. I fell to the floor with glorious ecstasy as my soul communed with its Maker. The Holy Spirit had guided me since the tender age of 8, but now His flame burned inside of me like an all-consuming fire. It forever changed my Christian walk and my passion for God!
I pray that every Christian who has not experienced this blessing will also develop an unquenchable hunger and thirst to obtain this precious infilling. It will forever change you as it did me!—Bryan Davis, pastor of the Dwelling Point Church of God in Siren, Wisconsin