If you missed chapter one, visit here : Chapter 1
The Holy Spirit Stutters?
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2 NIV
Eventually, it was time to make my way back home from my summer away. Upon my return, I began my journey to find a place to fellowship. Initially, I settled into a small Baptist church with a bilingual community of English and Spanish-speaking members. At sixteen years of age, I was still in the minority for people in my age group at this church, but I didn’t care. I wanted to pursue this new-found relationship and needed a place that would preach and teach the Bible. The services were very contemporary, traditional, and women could sing and serve, but leadership was not an option. Looking back, that is kind of ironic having come from a place where the overseer of the church was a female. I didn’t focus on any of the perceived negatives though because I just wanted to learn about Jesus so I took what I could. This would all change after accepting an invitation from a classmate.
A friend from high school kept inviting me to his church because he wanted me to experience their youth group. What was youth group? I had only ever really been around adults. Eventually, I accepted the invitation. I was exposed to what seemed like a perpetual summer camp like the one I encountered not too long ago. They even had a Youth Pastor! Who knew…a Pastor for people my age. It was an amazing time and I grew immensely in the Lord. Eventually, the pull for more was gripping me and I began to visit Sunday services as well. Little did I know what I was in for. This church building was very large, easily ten times or bigger than the other churches I had come from. And while the size of the building and members were greatly different from previous experiences, nothing had prepared me for the experience I was about to have once service really took off.
Service started with praise and worship. It was amazing. The room was electric with sounds of adoration. But then, something happened. After the singing had stopped, someone in the crowd stood up and began stuttering very loudly. Only thing was, no words ever came after the stuttering, just loud incoherent stuttering. Did I mention loud? What was happening and why wasn’t anyone stopping this person from interrupting the service? Come to find out, a lot of people in this church had a stuttering problem. Apparently, so many people had a stuttering problem in this church that they had to have translators. After this individual stopped stuttering, their translator spoke up and decoded the foreign message. As if the stuttering and translating wasn’t bad enough, people started falling on the ground. What the heck kind of church was this?
These stuttering people who constantly passed out were apparently “Pentecostal” or “Charismatic” Christians. Turns out, the stuttering was something called speaking in tongues and their falling was a work of the Holy Spirit. As alien as all this was to me, I was never fearful or concerned. Instead, I had a John the Baptist and Jesus in utero type of moment (Luke 1:41). Everything inside of me leaped as my spirit recognized Holy Spirit.
I would go on to make this place my church home. A year to the date that I gave my life to the Lord, I would be baptized in water and the Holy Spirit at this place. What do you know, I was a stutterer too! This place would serve as a true foundational experience in my new life in Christ. Even now I have such fond memories looking back at my time there.
I was still very young in my walk at this time, so I really had no idea of the discourse that took place amongst other houses of worship that didn’t exactly operate the same. And yes, while moves of the Holy Spirit may be uncommon to some, we serve a living breathing God, of course He will move. I never once after encountering Him in this way wrote off the amazing experiences I had at my previous, more conservative fellowships. For some, those contemporary churches are like freshman year in high school. You learn the ropes and get acclimated to a new school. As the years progress, you move up grade levels, learn more and mature. But just because you move on from your freshman year of school, doesn’t mean it was any less important and valuable. Why do we do the same thing with our church experiences? Maybe our journey begins in one type of setting and then God calls us to another. Does this invalidate what took place at the first church or encounter? Just like the senior who mocks the freshman, that senior was once a freshman too. Those churches who worship differently, as long as it is biblically sound, are still our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are still part of one body.
If I may present one more perspective. My mother during this time did not serve the Lord, but she did come with me the day I encountered Holy Spirit. When we left service that day, she made it very clear that she did not want me going back to this church. God gave me the grace to convey that I knew this was where I was supposed to fellowship and she begrudgingly came with me. She probably came because she wanted to make sure I wasn’t joining some crazy cult. Ultimately, she ended up giving her life to the Lord at this lively church and not too long later she was giving her testimony in front of the congregation and getting baptized. Praise God!
Does the fact that my mother found Jesus in a more charismatic church discredit the Jesus I found in a small contemporary church? Did she somehow encounter a super Jesus that I had not been privileged enough to meet on my day of salvation? No. Same Jesus. The difference? In this encounter, the Holy Spirit was not just talked about or read about, He was present and welcomed to make His presence known.
I spent the rest of my high school career at that church. I went after Him with much hunger and was happy to share Him with anyone who would listen. I was able to experience both the size of a Sunday service and the intimacy of being a small group leader. I was very grateful to have had that fundamental experience. The time was coming however for that season to change. Highschool was ending and I was moving. Where would the Lord take me next?