As a very young boy, I began to be conscious of God, though at that time I had little, if any, understanding of what that meant. But, even at that age I knew (though I would never have revealed it to anyone) that in some way I would serve God. Shortly after my seventeenth birthday, I knew that I would be a preacher, whatever that meant.
Along the way, I encountered a few people who were manifesting something, or rather someone (Holy Spirit) by speaking in “tongues.” That experience left me with a deep impression that this thing of “knowing God” was much beyond anything I had experienced. Though that experience was frightening to me, I knew that it was genuine and in my mind I knew that I would never settle for anything else.
It would be more than seven years between that experience and my coming to Christ. During those seven years, I packed in a lot of maturing: four years in the U.S. Air Force; meeting, courting and marrying Shirley–the love of my life; becoming employed in a newly developing realm of finance–consumer finance. All of that will cause a young man to mature quickly.
After our marriage in August 1951, Shirley and I lived in southeast Washington D.C., near my station at U.S.A.F. Headquarters, Bolling Air Force Base. Upon getting my discharge and taking employment in Alexandria, Virginia, we moved there. While there, we visited two or three Methodist churches. In 1953, we moved to Mobile, Alabama, near my family, a move we quickly aborted and returned to Arlington, Virginia, in late summer of 1953.
In late September of 1953, we attended Full Gospel Tabernacle (First Assembly of God) in Alexandria. It was there that Shirley and I committed ourselves to Christ on October 10, 1953. The people of Full Gospel Tabernacle were very friendly and gracious, enveloping us into the life that was so evident in them. We were instructed to seek for Holy Spirit, which we did. Shortly afterward, we were baptized into Holy Spirit, evidenced by speaking in tongues, though only a little.
Our experience seemed to satisfy them and seemed to qualified us for being one of them. So we moved comfortably into the life of the congregation. But, while it seemed that the people were satisfied with our progress, Holy Spirit did not agree and there began to develop within me a desire for more–although what, I did not know. Had I been asked, “Have you been baptized with Holy Spirit?” I would have responded, “Yes.” But that was based more on what the people had told us than what we knew within ourselves. That changed on a fateful Sunday night in November 1953 when I stepped into a dimension of Holy Spirit that can never be defined by words, even by those who have experienced this “Baptism of Fire.”
I wish that I could say that after that experience my life has been one of only ascending higher and higher into Yahweh’s glory, but something that can best be defined as “religion” got in my way. Rather than trusting and allowing Holy Spirit to begin to change me from within, with all sincerity on my part as well as on the part of those endeavoring to instruct me more perfectly in the ways of Holy Spirit, I started down a long, never-ending, twisting path from which few ever escape. I call it “religion.”
The call to ministry which I had received at seventeen began stirring within me and I began inquiring about what steps I should take. It seemed that the best thing for me to do was to enroll in a Bible college, but not just any Bible college; it had to be Assembly of God since I was going to be a minister in that denomination.
I was told of two colleges, one in Pennsylvania and one in Lakeland, Florida. Having no desire to live north of Virginia and having grown up not far from Lakeland, I chose Lakeland. So, in August 1954, Shirley and I, along with Donna Kay, our first child (born February 2, 1954) moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Lakeland, Florida, a trip perhaps more like the one depicted in the movie, “Grapes of Wrath,” than the move Jed Clampett and his kin made to Beverly Hills.
We moved into government housing along with other “pore” folks, paying $13.00 a month rent. I enrolled in Southeastern Bible College and got a night job at Orange State Processing Company. From that time until arriving in Panama City in 1969, I never had less than two full-time jobs. A glutton for work, in January 1957, I began pastoring Northside Assembly in Lakeland. So for two and a half years, I had three full-time jobs. From August 1959 until June 1969, I continued to hold more than one job, along with growing our family to six of us.
While going through some of the most challenging times of our lives, it was in 1968 in Tallahassee that the most important event, other than my salvation, took place. It was then and there that my Heavenly Father began to instruct me in the possibility and necessity of praying almost exclusively in tongues. There probably were other individuals who were of that “school,” but I did not know of even one. From that time to this, my life can best be described as “from glory to glory, from faith to faith, from revelation to revelation.” The day that I began to know Holy Spirit as the Revelator of truth was and remains second in importance to no other day in my life.
Without the revelation of praying in the Spirit, there is no way I could have survived either the spiritual or the physical attacks leveled against me in the last forty-four years. To Yahweh, I ascribe all honor and glory. Truly He is doing great things in me, that I might do great things in the earth.
The years of 2009 and 2010 were certainly trying, as so much of that time my physical life was being held in the balance. But, today I am well and more excited about where I am and where I am being led than at any other time.
The year leading up to the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of our coming to what at that time (June 1969) was known as Dirego Park Assembly of God, was a year of dichotomies for me: some things were working strongly for us and at the same time, other things were working against us. In the spirit, things were looking great, while in the natural, darkness was working hard to overcome the light. While much of the time I was being beset with life-threatening issues, I was never more alive in my spirit than I was at that time. At some point during that time period, Holy Spirit began to show me some critical mistakes made by the very apostles whom Yahshua appointed and “deputized” to not only continue the ministry He had begun, but to use it as a launching station to go beyond.
“The works that I have done, you shall do and greater works than these shall you do.”