My First Experience of the Holy Spirit’s Power
Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 20:22 NLT
Yesterday, I defined what I mean by the infilling or baptism of the Holy Spirit. Please allow me to reiterate. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an overwhelming experience of the Spirit’s presence, power, and purity: a total submergence within the person of God. This individual experience is instantaneous and can be reoccurring: one baptism, many fillings. The Baptism refers to the initial work of the Spirit in uniting believers to Christ as well as on-going encounters with the Spirit bringing refreshment and strengthening in the Christian life.
It was a hot summer in late August 1979. I was a member of a parachurch organization called the Agape Force, which conducted a training program named Crystal Springs Institute. As part of that program, each of us was required to participate in a mission trip. This mission trip was highly unusual. You and your team are dropped off in a Texas town with instructions to minister to whomever God brings in your path, to trust God for shelter and finances, and to rely on the Lord for safe return. The Agape Force ministry called the trip, the “Weekend Mission,” but the students called it the “Trust God or Die” weekend.
My four-man team was assigned South Dallas, I did not know at that time what a rough area it was. For the first time in my life, I did not know from where my next meal was coming from, with whom I would be staying, what was going to happen, and how I was going to get home. After getting off the bus, the first thing we did was pray. We were desperate. As we prayed, we felt that the Holy Spirit wanted us to begin at the beginning. So, we decided to start by evangelizing the first people we met on the street. My partner and I began to talk with an African-American man who was obviously down and out.
As we shared, he grew more and more obstinate. The more we shared the less and less effective I felt we were in reaching him. In fact, it seemed as if my words were dropping out of my mouth and straight onto the ground. I felt that I was not communicating the gospel clearly, effectively, or powerfully. Finally, in desperation I said, “If a car hit you this afternoon, where would you go, to heaven or hell?” He just looked at me and began to curse. I walked away feeling empty and helpless. I had no authority and power in my witness. I began to pray anxiously that God would somehow help me to be an effective testifier of God’s grace. I did not want the weekend to be a waste (to be continued).