My father-in-law, Mr. Rooker, was a man of faith, a farmer in the black lands of central-north Texas, near the small town of Tom Bean. I arrived in 1938 to be the pastor of a small Full Gospel church in town and that’s when I started courting his daughter! I remember Mr. Rooker telling me about the preacher who had come to hold a revival meeting outdoors in Tom Bean a few years before my arrival. (After the revival, the pastor built the church of which I am now the pastor).

My father-in-law recounted that at the beginning of the revival, the preacher only spoke about the new birth. Hundreds of farmers and their families came from all around the Tom Bean area to listen to this preacher, and many came forward to pray at the altar and be saved. The whole community was touched by what was happening in those tent meetings.

After several weeks of revival, the preacher started preaching about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues – and people began to receive it! As you can imagine, this created quite a stir in the small town of Tom Bean.

People had their own theories about what was happening to the local folks speaking strange languages during those tent meetings. For instance, some thought it had something to do with the kerosene lanterns that were lit and hung on poles to illuminate the outdoor meetings! (Remember, this was the time of the Depression, and there often was no electricity in outdoor meetings).

Someone said, “Those gas lanterns project circles of light. I tell you, the preacher must be putting something in the lantern light that touches you and makes you speak in tongues!” You can see the ignorance of spiritual things that was common at the time.

There was also the theory of the anointing oil that the preacher used when praying for the sick. The concept of healing and anointing the sick with oil was new to people. So, some speculated, “The preacher must be putting something from that bottle on people to make them speak in those strange languages. Don’t get too close to the preacher, or what’s happening will get to you!”

People had all sorts of wild ideas! But they didn’t have to worry. The Holy Spirit doesn’t “come upon” a person if they don’t want Him. He is a perfect gentleman.

My father-in-law told me, “The whole community was divided on this issue of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Everyone was talking about it, and many people went to the tent meetings to see what would happen. The curious ones stood in the shadows, away from the light of the lanterns. After all, they certainly didn’t want whatever was causing people’s strange behavior to touch them!”

Then a neighboring farmer got saved, and Mr. Rooker told me, “I knew this man. He was an honest citizen, a sincere man. Another farmer friend and I said, ‘There’s one thing we know: if this neighbor has this experience, we’ll know it’s real because we know him. He won’t accept anything false or deceitful.'”

Mr. Rooker continued, “All people knew how to do at the time was come to the altar and seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So my friend and I stood in the shadows and got as close to the altar as possible to see what would happen to this man.

<<One night, this neighboring farmer was praying alone in front of the altar. Everyone else had left, and my friend and I were closer to him than anyone else. We watched our neighbor kneeling in front of the altar, praying. Suddenly, he raised both hands, looked toward heaven, and began speaking in a strange language, without anyone shining a lantern on him or putting oil on him! My friend, who was watching in the shadows with me, turned to me and asked, ‘What’s he saying? What’s he saying? What’s he saying?’ I replied, ‘I don’t know; he’s not talking to me!’ My father-in-law didn’t realize how scriptural this statement was!>> Mr. Rooker was speaking in line with 1 Corinthians 14:2, which says:

For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him…

He was not speaking to Mr. Rooker or the other man. He was speaking divine secrets to God.

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 “Prayer outside our intelligence“.

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