SPEAKING IN TONGUES?
By: Michael Fackerell
At the time when I started living for God, back in 1984, there were still a lot of things that God wanted to deal with in me. (I'm sure there still are!) Until that time, my desires had been after intellectual stimulation and personal recognition based on performance. I was still into computers pretty heavily and still played Dungeons and Dragons with my friends at times, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. I was no longer playing in a rock and roll band as I had done in high school, but I was still listening a lot to the radio.
It still seemed to me in many ways that the really appealing things were in the realm of fantasy, and that reality was kind of boring. Yet God had begun to work in my life. The fact that my pursuits did not always coincide with my belief in the gospel didn't worry me too much, since most of the other Christians I had ever seen were the same. It wasn't until later that God really began to change my desires in these areas.
While in second year University, the popular Anglican preacher we listened to began to preach about the Holy Spirit. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was preaching against Charismatics. The effect his preaching had on me, however, was to stir up curiosity. We had been so well taught that the Bible was the final authority on matters of faith. So I decided to check things out against the Bible. I was not satisfied with this preacher's response to my question: "If being filled with the Holy Spirit in the New Testament was accompanied by supernatural spiritual gifts, why is it not like that today?"
Around the same time, I was invited to a Pentecostal cell group by some people I had met around the University campus.. I decided to check it out. I remember feeling really out of place there. Everyone had their hands in the air and the leader was saying, "Come on. Just reach out and touch God!" I thought it was quite embarrassing really. I was not used to such demonstrative practices in worshipping God.
I wasn't particularly impressed with what I saw. I thought: Those so-called prophecies - anyone with a knowledge of the Bible could have made them up. But then again, who knows? Maybe there is something in it. I asked a lot of questions. I said, "If you guys are right, where are the miracles?" The leader said words to the effect of "We're getting there".
The leader of that group came and visited me in my college dorm, wanting to pray with me so that I would speak in tongues, but I put him off, since the exams were near, and I didn't want my brain to be addled before taking these exams.
Two other things happened around that time. One was, my mother gave me a tape from a charismatic Anglican preacher about the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. It turned out my mother spoke in tongues, but she had not wanted to push it on me. The other thing was my best friend told me he had started to speak in tongues while he was alone in his room.
Another event worth mentioning is that God led me to ask forgiveness from my father for certain things and to forgive him myself. I believe this was very important for what was to come.
I continued my search, reading the passages in the New Testament and wanting to know more. I visited an Assemblies of God church with my friend. I was under the impression that Pentecostals were like a cult - pretty heretical. Imagine my surprise when I heard the preacher preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and salvation through the blood of Jesus. I concluded it couldn't be that bad after all. I'm so glad it wasn't some fund raising message or something really far out that day, like you can find from time to time in Pentecostal churches. Something like that would most likely have turned me off completely.
I ended up seeking this pastor out at his house. I did want to be filled with the Spirit, if this could happen for me. After sharing with some things with me, another appointment was arranged. This pastor told me that he had seen blind eyes open in Jesus' name while ministering in Fiji. Also God had also saved his life miraculously in an amazing way out of the biker scene. Somehow, I sensed he was telling the truth, though I had never witnessed any miracles like that in my life.
On the second appointment, this pastor asked me, "Do you believe you will speak in tongues when I pray for you?" I said I wasn't sure, but he assured me it would happen. I was scared that nothing would happen.
After further discussion, I prayed to the Lord something like this: "Dear Lord Jesus, I want you, and only you. Fill me with the Holy Spirit and give me the power of God." I prayed this prayer based on Luke 11:13. God will give his children the Holy Spirit if they ask, not a serpent (a demon).
I believed that I should open my mouth and speak what came out - so I did. At that very instant something very surprising happened to me. I felt like 240 Volts of power was going through my body - it was also a bit like pins and needles. I thought, "Something real is happening". I had never experienced anything like that before. At the same time, I continued to utter syllables that I did not comprehend at all. It was something that was right outside my experience. I had never felt anything like that when I prayed before! I knew it was God's power that I had asked for.
I went home and kept praying in tongues. Then I went to a Christian conference organized by Campus Crusade. I noticed in my life a greater desire to serve God, a desire after holiness and purity which I had never known before. Up until that time, holiness had a very negative connotation for me. It was something I didn't want. But now things were different. The first unbeliever I talked with prayed to receive Christ.
When I returned to University, I knew that what I had experienced was not going to be accepted by most of my Christian friends. And I was right. I had already made the commitment though, that I was after truth no matter what it would cost me in terms of social relationships. I have never regretted that decision.
I started attending an Assembly of God church. It wasn't long before the matter of water baptism was brought up. Having now experienced the Holy Spirit in a new way, I was eager for everything God had for me. I had long suspected that baptism was for believers, not babies. I remember wishing I could be baptized before as a believer when I was in the Anglican church. I was glad to learn that it was still part of God's plan.
I was baptized in water in July, 1985. To me this was also an act of consecration. No longer was I to live for the old desires, for the old nature. I was dedicating myself "unto all righteousness".
In 1985, while in my final year of University, studying computer science, several significant events took place in my life which changed my life and destiny. I had gone to University with the plan to become a great computer scientist. I wanted to do honors in Sydney and then a PhD at Stanford University in the States, and I was very much on track until the end of my third year at Uni. But these goals and ambitions seemed less and less meaningful to me after the encounter I had with the Holy Spirit.
This encounter with the Holy Spirit made an impact on my world view. I had entered into a totally new realm about which I knew very little. Many of the assumptions which I had held about the way God works in the world changed. I read the New Testament with a new perspective.
Many different things started to happen in my life in 1985. I had an increased desire to win souls to Christ. But more than that, I wanted to know why the Pentecostal church I belonged to fell so short of the mark as far as revealing the truth of the promises which I had previously assumed to be "not really for today".
It wasn't that the leadership of the church wasn't aiming for it. The leader of that church (now retired) had led revivals and been used by God in the healing ministry before. That church had a great record as far as evangelism and church planting, and in the 20 years in 1977 from when it was planted from nine adults and five children it has grown to a worldwide movement with tens of thousands of people involved. However, my soul was reaching out for something more.
Why was it, for example, that there was so much talk about divine healing and so little concrete evidence that it was actually happening? My mind rebelled also against the teaching that one should say that they were healed even when there was still no sign of change. The whole thing seemed unreal.
There were meetings with loud contemporary music, enthusiastic preaching and salvation appeals that drew 10-15 new decisions for Christ every meeting, but where was the promised power of healing so much talked about?
Earlier that year, however, I had been to a meeting organized by a charismatic pastor on the north side of Sydney. He had invited a certain gentleman by the name of Gordon Gibbs to preach there. Oddly enough, it was my mother who took me along there. I was pretty skeptical still about divine healing even though I had spoken in tongues and knew that was real.
There were about 100 people at this meeting. After the time of praise this old preacher was introduced. It was nothing like I expected. Basically, all he did was share different stories from his experiences with God, and a few texts of Scripture. He didn't shout - he just talked, and he had the funniest mannerisms.
What was interesting though was what was happening on the inside of me. This incredibly warm presence gripped me in the area of the stomach. I can't describe it exactly, but it was like molten iron was in my belly (but absolutely no pain). I found myself absolutely riveted by the presence of God in the place.
Then something equally astonishing took place. The preacher had finished preaching, and some had come forward for salvation. But the meeting didn't end there. The preacher started calling out all these medical and emotional conditions - not general ones like back problems that someone is bound to have but very specific things. It seemed like he called out about 30 different things and always it matched someone in the crowd exactly. People were coming forward, receiving prayer, falling to the crowd, and getting up testifying that the pain was gone.
At the time I had RSI from typing too much at computer keyboards. He never called that condition out, but what I noticed was that the blood in my hands started circulating very quickly it seemed, and the pain left.
Some friends of mine and myself returned with an unsaved friend to another one of these meetings. It was much the same, but this time the preacher started naming the problems that our friend had. Our friend would not respond. But the preacher kept going into things in more and more detail. When my friend still refused to come out the preacher addressed him personally in front of everyone and asked him to respond. He got saved that night, and is in the ministry today.
All this put in me a strong desire to know God like this preacher did. Yet in the church I was attending, it seemed there was more smoke than fire.
Another important thing happened to me in August 1985. One night I had a dream in which I saw what seemed to be the faces of a multitude in darkness being sucked down into everlasting perdition. I woke up so shaken by that dream. I said, "God, I want to be an evangelist. But I'm asking you to confirm this by giving me 5 prophetic words from others in the next 10 days.
What was interesting was that although people didn't usually prophesy to me, in the next ten days I did receive five prophetic words which indicated to me that I should make the preaching of the gospel my central activity. One of them was from a preacher. He said in the name of the Lord, "I've been calling you for a long time. And don't let a career get in the way." This was significant for me because in those days I had the opportunity to earn a lot of money with my computer skills. I had made $10,000 at least in my third year of University without much effort and it seemed the world could offer me a lot in that area. But now my direction was to change. Money meant nothing to me, winning souls meant everything.
Around this time, I was still agonizing about the Scriptures concerning divine healing (like Exodus 15:26; Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 53:4,5; James 5:14; Mark 16:17,18; John 14:12; Matthew 8:16,17) and many others. I wanted to believe it was true, but I could not! I felt tortured in my mind whenever I considered the matter. I had already seen some concrete evidence for it in life, but the failures in this area were all too evident to me also.
I do believe that speaking in tongues is for today and that it is real because I have personally experienced it and continue to experience it on a day-to-day basis. If you have not received this powerful gift in your life, I encourage you to seek the Giver for this gift - not the gift first and then the Giver. He is faithful to those who seek Him with their whole heart and will not let you down! If you are hungry for more of Him, He will fill you.
In summary, I finished my University degree without doing my honours year and, responding to the call of God, entered into student evangelism in the Universities.
Read the next part of my story here...
If you would like to be in contact with Michael Fackerell, you can reach him at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or he has his own personal website at http://www.christian-faith.com/truestories.html.
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