A gift for hungry hearts.
I read another testimony, just after the Second World War, from a denominational missionary in Africa. In 1946, this missionary returned to the United States for the first time after ministering continuously for 37 years in the African bush. When she arrived in New York, she was overwhelmed by the noise, traffic, and crowds.
She said, “I had to lock myself in my hotel room, and I stayed there for five days, away from everything. But I listened to the radio and heard a broadcast from Glad Tidings Tabernacle, located in New York. I called the hotel reception and learned that the church was not far from where I was staying. I thought, ‘I believe I’ll go out and attend that church on Sunday evening.
I believe I can do it. By then, I’ll have spent seven days in the city, and I think I’ll have gotten used enough to urban life to go out in public.’
“So, I went to the Sunday evening service. After the pastor’s message, he made an altar call and sent those who responded to a prayer room on the ground floor. At the end of the service, I introduced myself to the pastor’s wife. I told her which denomination I belonged to and that I had been a missionary in Africa for 37 years. She and her husband welcomed me and gave me a tour of the church.”
The pastor and his wife took the missionary to their large prayer room, where altar workers prayed with those who had responded to the altar call. Some prayed for salvation, others to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As the missionary observed the scene, several believers in the prayer room began speaking in tongues.
The pastor’s wife explained to the missionary, “These people are filled with the Holy Spirit.” The missionary replied, “I’ve never been around Pentecostals, but I’ve heard people talk about them. Is the strange language I hear from these people what you Pentecostals call the baptism of the Holy Spirit?”
“Well, you hear them speaking in tongues, which is evidence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” replied the pastor’s wife. “I’ve had it for 37 years,” exclaimed the missionary, “I knew God had blessed me, but I didn’t know what to call it. I knew God had blessed me, but I didn’t know what to call it!”
The missionary explained to the pastors, “When I arrived in Africa years ago, as a young unmarried missionary woman, I had all these glamorous ideas about the missionary profession. But when I got there, I found it tough!
After only a few months, I knelt in my small thatched-roof hut and prayed, ‘Lord, I believe you’ve called me. I believe your hand is on my life. But I don’t have what it takes. I need more of You, Lord! I continued to pray like that whenever I could. But one day, I felt desperate and cried in prayer, ‘Lord, I can’t go on! I know you sent me, and I hate to disappoint the people who support me. But if I don’t get more of You, I’ll have to give up and go home.'”
The missionary continued, “Suddenly, I began uttering strange words, just like these people here, and later, I started singing with those same strange words. I was so joyful and happy to do it that I thought God had given me something to help me move forward! I didn’t know it was a gift available to everyone! But for 37 years, every day, I find myself alone with God and communicate with Him in this strange language. And I also often sing in this language! It builds me up and blesses me so much!”
This missionary woman’s testimony shows that it matters little what the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues are called. The essential thing is to receive this supernatural blessing!
I remember hearing another testimony in this regard, this time from a Full Gospel missionary. He told me about a time when he was invited to preach in a denominational church in the capital of an African country.
The elderly pastor of the church was an American who had spent 35 years in this country without ever returning to the United States. The Pentecostal missionary decided to preach a salvation message rather than a controversial topic like the Holy Spirit. This church had one of those old “repentance benches” at the front of the sanctuary, around which people gathered to pray. After the missionary’s salvation message, seven people approached the altar to pray for salvation.
The Pentecostal missionary told me, “I didn’t even pray with those seven people. The church altar workers gathered around them, and then the pastor invited all the Christians to come around the altar and pray too. That’s when three of the seven people who had come to be saved suddenly began speaking in tongues!
I thought, ‘Lord, I made a mistake! I ran to the pastor and tried to apologize. I said, ‘Brother, I didn’t mean to cause trouble. I just preached salvation! I didn’t intend to cause problems…’ The pastor asked me, ‘What are you talking about? I replied, ‘Well, these three believers are speaking in tongues. They have been filled with the Holy Spirit.’
The denominational pastor exclaimed, ‘Is that what you Pentecostals call the baptism of the Holy Spirit? For 35 years, all my converts have experienced it! We call it ‘sanctification’!”
Regardless of the name given to the baptism of the Holy Spirit, God has made this precious gift available to all who call on His name! Every believer, wherever they are, just needs to be thirsty for more of God and to be filled with the Spirit!
This text is an excerpt from the book “The Power of Speaking in Tongues: Everything you want to know about Speaking in Tongues” written by Kenneth Erwin Hagin.
We invite you to read the following article: “Obstacles to receiving the Holy Spirit“.