Never underestimate a determined woman. I wanted to attend church with my husband and after that Baccalaureate evening I saw hope shining before me. I made a few phone calls and discovered that the church was in our home county, albeit a good little drive from home. I happily informed John, who looked a wee bit like a deer in the headlights for a moment, but he is nothing if not a man of his word. He did attend with me and while he assured me he had no intent of being there every single Sunday and absolutely no Wednesday nights at all, he did attend with me more often than not.
This was a little Baptist church in a rural setting and the young pastor was a gifted preacher. We attended that little church for four years I think. I objected to one thing only when we joined that church and it was that the pastor insisted I had to be baptized into the Baptist church. Stuff and nonsense as far as I was concerned but since I'd already been baptized twice, a third time could do no harm. The young pastor moved on after those four years and another pastor came in who was also a young man and gifted. He loved music and started the First Sunday evening praise and worship service. He discovered John played guitar and had written a few Christian songs and he announced one Sunday that John would be performing one of his original pieces at that evening's service. This was our introduction to worship but we didn't realize it at that time!
Eventually that young pastor also left and John very much wanted to find our first pastor. We openly discussed this with the newest pastor and he gave us his blessings. We discovered that our former pastor was now in another county but not much further away than the little country church we were attending in our home county. We visited and eventually joined the church. I don't know all the details about what occurred but there was a brouhaha over the content of sermons (some didn't like Bible based preaching!) and our young pastor was voted to remain in a rather fierce business meeting by 2/3 of the congregation. However, the 1/3 who were against him 'owned' the church building and property. They made things pretty miserable. I was disillusioned yet again with a church body...when this young pastor decided to step out and start his own non-denominational church, we went right along with him.
We were so excited to be on the 'building' committee, so to speak. We believed in this pastor and his message. We met in a park for two months and then a building was found that they could rent. When they went into this building, John was on the praise team and eventually so was I. Remember my husband who wanted to attend only occasionally? We were there Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and any other time anyone offered to show up and he was off work!
One Wednesday night at the end of a powerful prayer service, the pastor asked if John and I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. We hadn't been but had grown to the point that we wanted to be. He laid hands on us that night and we both received the Holy Spirit. Our prayer languages came to us that night and a deep peace and happiness. We were so excited, so filled with joy at the experience. The church was vitally alive and spirit filled.
And then 'somebody' went to the pastor with a complaint. I tell you truly that these days when we hear the word 'somebody' in a sentence we cringe hard. Really hard. Satan dislikes a vital church. And he will use the most unlikely people to tear it down. That little church was rocked several times by the opinions of 'somebody' and things changed a good deal.
We watched helplessly as one after another of the most vital people in the church were attacked by the complaints of 'somebody'. Some of the most spirit filled people in the church disappeared and stopped attending for no known reason. We were disturbed but we kept telling ourselves that no church was perfect. Heaven knows I'd discovered that several times over.
John and I continued studying on our own and we watched lots of ministry programs that taught us about healing, tithing and giving, the Holy Spirit and a great many things. It was during this time that we experienced some healing of our own both physical, spiritual and emotional, as well as a wonderful financial miracle including paying off all our debt and our home. I've shared that story before.
We were excited when the Lakeland revival began to be televised. We had a burning desire to go to Lakeland ourselves, and to see and experience it first hand became our mantra.
We did go eventually. It was the most awesome thing I've ever experienced. For the first time we heard the shofar blown and let me say here that it resonated something deep within me. There was a worship session that lasted nearly 2 hours, with half the worship team falling under the holy spirit. The congregation there held hands and sang in the spirit. To be part of that, to be with 5000 people from 50 different countries, holding hands and singing praise to the One God was....It's hard to explain. It was exciting, but not in an 'oooh that was fun' or scary sort of way. It was fulfilling and humbling and felt very right and real. We came back from Lakeland feeling we were on fire and we wanted to share that fire with others.
And then we met the firemen who were determined to put out that fire, lol. We were naive, it's true. We were certain that others wanted what we'd found. They most definitely didn't want it.
I guess we felt a hard disconnect from what we'd experienced in the early days of the start up of the church and in Lakeland. We didn't stop attending or stop being enthusiastic but we learned that it was just better to keep quiet about it. We were already considered sort of fanatics before Lakeland. After, we just appeared to be more so, I guess.
I remember one night as I read scripture in church, I came across a verse I've read many times. Luke 4:16 states that Jesus went to synagogue as was his custom on the Sabbath. For the first time ever, I felt a complete disconnect from all those portraits of the blue eyed blonde Jesus. My Savior was a Jew. He was a Jew because His father had long ago set apart these people for Himself. I remember looking up at John and saying, in astonishment, "Jesus was a Jew!" And he looked back at me and I could see the light slowly dawning in him that I felt within myself. "I wonder..." "What?" he asked. "I wonder what it would be like to worship God the way that Jesus His Son did..." Little did I know that statement was the very beginning of still another spiritual journey.