My wife and I have been trying to start up a small New Testament home church. We have been doing the reading and getting an understanding of what that means, as well as looking for other believers who would participate.
On Wednesday I got a call for a job in Shreveport, Lousianna. I picked
up and went without much thought. The problem turned out to be a
non-problem and basically I got paid for the trip but there wasn't much
real work to be done.
For some reason, the people I was working with immediately identified me
as a Christian and we began discussing Christian topics. One man
mentioned he was going to a home church meeting that night and I asked
if I could go along with him.
First thing you should realize is that this is out of character for
"work Ernie". Unlike "internet Ernie", I keep a relatively low profile.
At the home church I was welcomed as if I'd been coming there for
decades. It was a very simple affair. We ate, then prayed, then began
chatting. At the reading of the bible, I suddenly became aware of the
presence of the Holy Spirit.
This was strange to me. I've never felt that in the company of others.
On rare occasions, during long prayer sessions, I feel the presence.
Never in church. Never amongst others. And it was very clear from their
faces that the others could feel it too. One man, the most outspoken
(not me), announced that the Holy Spirit was with us. It did not need to
be announced! It would have been like saying, "There's Bill!" when Bill
was clearly standing by the table.
Now I had not given much backstory to the others about my own personal
life at this point, but a man began speaking to me about my purpose here
in the desert. He simply said that there's a reason for it and it would
be shown to me in time. Then he looked surprised and stated that those
words just popped into his mouth.
At the end, we prayed together and a woman beside me began speaking in
tongues. I have ALWAYS thought of this as fraudulent. At best I felt the
people who do that were decieving themselves and at worst they were
practicing deception. From a pastor I believe in, I had read his proof
texts which he said proved that speaking in tongues does not happen today. Since I did not believe it in the first place, it was not difficult to convince me.
Still, I cannot believe that with the Holy Spirit so filling the room
that I wanted to throw myself on the floor and cry, any Christian would
knowingly participate in the fraud.
But there was something extra to this. We were holding hands in a circle
and when she began to speak in tongues, my hand went numb as if it was
asleep. The numbness proceeded, not in an uncomfortable or painful way,
up past my elbow. It persisted for the next two hours until I went to
sleep and even in the morning when I woke I could still feel a slight
difference in my fingers.
God must know I'm a skeptic and that I would require some physical
proof. I would have easily convinced myself that this was fake had it
not been for the numbness. That was something I could not easily
I returned from Shreveport fundamentally changed. God is moving more
overtly in my life now. I am not having to reach quite so far to find
Him. I am both pleased and frightened by this.