Monday, November 17, 1980

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

From Liberia to India to Marshfield, WI
I became a follower of Christ around 1974 (my story is here). I was 12 years old. Born in a Hindu family, my exposure to Christianity until that time was very limited. The circumstances that led to my accepting the Lord Jesus into my life are these: My family lived in Monrovia, Liberia (W. Africa) at the time. In 1972, at the age of 10, I was sent to a boarding school in Panchgani in India.
St. Peter's School, Panchgani, India
Scripture Union -- the organization that organized the camp where I accepted Christ
My mentor was another kid in the 6th grade, whose dad was a pastor in Bombay. My understanding of who Jesus was, what he did and said, what the church was about and what Christian life should look like, came from the pages of the Bible. Having not grown up in a Christian home or in a Christian country, the Bible was my source of information. In our sheltered boarding school world, where we had limited interactions with people outside the school campus, Christian fellowship took the form of a group of kids (from different religious backgrounds) who had accepted Christ, meeting together once or twice a week, praying, singing songs and reading the Bible.  
St Peters School, Panchgani, India
On Sundays, our school allowed us to attend the St. Peter’s church – the school’s affiliated Presbyterian Church. The congregation consisted mainly of residents of the boys’ and girls’ boarding schools and a few locals from the town.
While there, I attending a weekend camp held by Scripture Union – a UK-based missionary organization that reaches children with the gospel. Around a camp fire on the last night of the camp, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. The next day, we returned back to our boarding school in Panchgani. In that first year of being a Christian, someone had given me a copy of the Living Bible and I read it daily. 

Spiritual Life Center, Nasrapur, India, where I accepted Christ

Spiritual Life Center, Nasrapur, India, where I accepted Christ
Panchgani is a small town located 4,200 feet above sea level among the hills and mountains of western India. After I came to know the Lord, one of my favorite things to do was go for long walks alone in the hills and roads of the town, to worship and pray. I used to speak out my prayers aloud to the Lord and sing hymns and songs I had learned in church. There were many areas one could be alone in the mountains, and woods.
On Sunday afternoon while doing this, I was overwhelmed with God’s greatness, goodness and His love for me. I was speaking out, singing out songs I made up to praise Him and thank Him for His great love for me. At one point, as I sang and spoke, it was as if English was just not expressive a language enough to worship and describe how great He was and I suddenly broke out speaking in a new language. It rushed out of me with passion and feeling (Acts12:45,46). I stopped, wondering what had just happened. I had remembered reading about something like this in the Bible and went back to my dorm to look it up. I read Acts chapter 2. I identified with the disciples in that chapter. I believed I had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. From then onwards, I began to speak in tongues and worship in tongues in my private prayer times and long walks. After this experience, I got courage to tell the other believing children in our little group about what had happened to me. My mentor, Philip and myself began to pray for others in our group to similarly be baptized in the Holy Spirit as we had read the apostles had done (Acts 8:15, 16; Acts 19:6). Others began to speak in tongues as well.
Road in Panchgani, India
View from a hill in Panchgani, India
My favorite part of the Bible at that time was the letters in the New Testament. Living in a boarding school far away from home, letters were important to us kids (these were the days before the internet and email). We looked forward to mail call every Saturday afternoon, to see if we had got a letter from home. So naturally, I gravitated towards the personal tone of the letters in the NT. I read in the letter to the Corinthians ( I Cor. 14: 1-25) how speaking in tongues could be used for personal prayer and praise times.

St. Peter's Church, Panchgani, India

St. Peter's church, Panchgani, India

St. Peter's Church choir, circa 1975
I came to understand from Scriptures that God calls up to keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18) and that we would manifest His fruits (Gal. 5:22) and gifts (I Cor. 12:1; I Cor. 14:1) and that He would teach and remind us of Jesus’s words (John 14:16-17, 26). I continue to pray in the Spirit and seek daily to be filled with Him to show forth in my life, the love and power of the Lord.