The gift of tongues played a very important part in bringing me to faith in Christ. At the age of 16 I arrived in London, from Australia where I was brought up. I had come to study dance. Although I had been brought up to be a churchgoer and to affirm the Christian faith, I did not know the Lord personally. I was an unbeliever.
As a young student in London I had tried out a few churches but found them boring and irrelevant. Two years later my elder brother, Ray, came to visit me from Africa where he was living. As soon as I saw him, I knew something had happened to him. He had changed completely. He soon told me that he had met Jesus. Never having heard anyone speak like that, I was amazed. Over the next few days, I discovered that Ray’s claim was backed up by a lifestyle of a real Christian. Ray spoke so excitedly about Jesus that I could see he really knew Him.
A supernatural God
Then Ray spoke to me about the Holy Spirit and how He brings you the power to live the Christian life. He also told me about the gift of tongues that he had received. Although he never ‘demonstrated’ the gift to me, I was thrilled by the understanding that God met with people like that. I could see that God was everything that He claimed to be. He was a supernatural God who did supernatural things in the lives of people today.
It wasn’t long before I too had made a commitment to follow Christ and looked forward to finding out more about the Holy Spirit. Ray had to go back to Africa and I was left alone in London as a new, but enthusiastic believer in Jesus Christ. It was in the beginning of the 1970s and the Charismatic renewal was sweeping through the established churches. I found myself getting more and more desperate to receive the Holy Spirit. I remember praying so hard after one Sunday service at my local church, “Lord, I am desperate. Please show me how I can receive the Holy Spirit.” I heard that there was ‘a time of fellowship’ after the service in the church hall, and I went.
What I did not know was that in this church a number of people had been receiving the baptism in the Spirit and had been attending charismatic prayer groups. There was such freshness in their experience of the Spirit. I fell into conversation with a woman, called Denise, who told me that they prayed in a basement flat of a friend in South Kensington. I told her that I wanted to be baptised in the Holy Spirit. She beamed from ear to ear and arranged for me to attend the prayer meeting next week.
Thirsty for the Spirit
I remember hearing tongues for the first time and it was amazing. I knew that I really wanted what these people had. But nothing happened that first meeting. Next week, I was so thirsty for the Spirit I could hardly contain myself. The leader had arranged for us to listen to a tape by the well-known Anglican Charismatic leader, David Watson. It was about the Holy Spirit. I was delighted! When the message had concluded they turned off the tape and sat in a circle to pray.
Some prayed on and on, about all sorts of things and I thought to myself, “Why don’t they get on with it?” I so wanted someone to pray for me or to somehow help me to receive the Holy Spirit. Just then, Denise began to pray, “Lord Jesus, we ask for those who are seeking you for the Holy Spirit. Please Lord…” I don’t remember her prayer from this point on because something began to stir from deep within me. It began to well up on the inside until I could feel it bubbling up through my mouth. And I began to speak in tongues. It was the most holy and beautiful experience. It was as if I was given words to say the things I had always longed to say to someone, but I didn’t know what or to whom.
By now, the gift of tongues was flowing strongly from my mouth. It was gentle but powerful. Surprisingly, I did not feel overwhelming emotion and yet the experience of God was very deep.
The exalted Lord
I recall a clear and awesome impression gripping hold of me. It was a visual impression of Christ. He was seated on the throne of heaven and He had just poured out this blessing on my life. I could clearly grasp Christ’s ascended glory. But I was a young believer. I did not yet know how my experience was so like those in the New Testament. I barely understood that Jesus was the Baptiser in the Holy Spirit. I had no idea of the full significance of what I was experiencing—only that the ascended Christ was blessing me. I later came to understand how Peter explained the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
“Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.” (Acts 2:33)
That was the beginning of a relationship with the Holy Spirit that has lasted thirty years. I have never stopped being amazed at the wonderful power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He brings Christ so close to me and makes Him so real. And He has never let me down. He always enables, He always strengthens and He always encourages me to serve Jesus. This Holy Spirit is for you also and for all who will call on the Lord God who answers by fire.
This is am excerpt from my book Hearts on Fire: Walking in Personal Revival.