Tuesday, April 05, 2005
the Acts of the Little Green Apples - index
printed in the USA by Whitaker House, 1973, reprinted 1995
(aka "The Acts of the Green Apples")
Once upon a time, the Willanses were quiet, respectable suburbanites. But it just wasn't meant to be -- not after Mrs. Willans got acquainted with God and He catapulted them out of their quiet, suburban existence to send them around the world into some heart-warming, miracle-studded, and frankly hilarious adventures. There's one other thing we ought to mention: this story really happened. And if miracles can happen to the Willanses, they can even happen to you ...
Table of Contents
Act 1 Cont'd
Act 1 Cont'd (last bit)
Act 2 Cont'd
Act 4 Cont'd
Act 5 Cont'd
Act 6 Cont'd
Act 8 Cont'd
Act 10 Cont'd
A Husband's Afterword
Dedication by author:
For Madeleine and Bill Duncan, who encouraged me and loved me when I needed it ...
and for Richard and Suzanne
the Acts of the Green Apples - Jean Stone Willans - Act 1
The event of my conversion (the terminology is accurate, though I would not have approved of it at the time) was a curious blend of Catholicism and Protestantism. I had been nurtured for a short time in an Anglo-Catholicism (High Church Episcopalianism) which made me more catholic than the Catholics, and yet my personal experience of the living God has delighted almost all Protestants who have heard it, with the exception of one Plymouth Brethren elder who claimed my conversion couldn't be genuine unless it was based on some particular Scripture verse!
For approximately two years I had been religious. It is strange to make such a statement when I was christened as an infant in the Episcopal Church, raised in that doctrine, and had a brother who was a priest. And as a child I prayed. I think everyone has prayed to a God he knows the name of or to a God he does not know the name of, but I think this has very little to do with what I am talking about -- that vital personal encounter with the Creator through the Redeemer by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
Immediately prior to my birth I was kneeling before a crucifix saying my regular morning prayers when I suddenly knew I was a sinner. How ridiculous. What had I ever done that everyone else hadn't done at one time or another? As a matter of fact, I was a very respectable member of the community. But I knew. I can't say how I knew. And at the same instant I knew Jesus Christ had died for me. Of course my doctrine included the fact that Christ had died for the sins of the world -- but really now! No one had ever told me that if there hadn't been anyone in the world but Jean, He would have died for me. But I suddenly knew that it was true and that He had. It was as though the Universe had split and revealed to me a truth unknown by anyone else -- a truth of such magnitude as to transform my entire life. Somehow I understood within my innermost self everything: why He died, why it was necessary that He die, why I needed Him. The enormity of God Himself bothering with me was too much for my finite being and I prostrated myself upon the floor and burst into tears.
I looked up at the crucifix in thanksgiving and was surprised to see light streaming from it. Foolishness. Emotion. I looked again. It was there. My mind inquired what it could mean, and I finally came to the conclusion that God was trying to tell me that this experience was important. But I couldn't name what had happened to me or explain why it should be important, except that any experience with God would be important.
So that was my birthday. Afterward things became more complicated.
Outwardly I remained the same: dedicated to the church, narrow concerning other denominations, deeply devotional and steeped with an avid curiosity to discover more concerning what I would have called "the Faith."
But inwardly there was a difference. First, I possessed a peculiar feeling of assurance that I was eventually going to make it to heaven. Concerned that this was bordering on the sin of presumption, I discussed it with the rector (the priest in charge) of my parish. He was not at all enthused. I couldn't reason it out very well because I didn't understand it myself, and yet it appeared so terribly real that I couldn't let go of the thought easily. I remember arguing, "But Father, if God is love, then He must be more concerned about our getting to Heaven than we are. I know we aren't very good, but if we are really trying, doing everything and believing everything we know how, do we have to be so nervous about it? Couldn't we relax in the knowledge that if we do our bit He is certainly going to do His and see that we get there?"
Father shook his head and said doubtfully, "Well, I suppose you can believe that if you want to." And I did believe it. Oh, how I believed it! I knew in Whom I believed and I knew where I was going, but as for the doctrine of my belief -- I couldn't have explained it at all. And as for a scripture verse to base it on -- well, at that time I thought the Old Testament was the history of the Jewish people and that my church had written the New Testament.
There was another difference. Before this peculiar experience I was satisfied. I had a strict Rule of Life which gave me a certain amount of gratification in the doing. I worked in the parish in a number of unrelated capacities which fulfilled both my pragmatic and my creative needs. I was active and busy as well as prayerful and devoted to God and to the church.
Suddenly it all changed. I was happier but no longer satisfied. It seemed to me there was something wrong with my life. Had God made a mistake somewhere and made me a woman when I should have been a man? Because of that I could not enter the priesthood. Why had he allowed me to marry? Now I could never be a nun. A growing sense of frustration developed. Surely there was more to service for God than fundraising fashion shows, pancake suppers, and Altar Guild duty. Why did I have to be a woman?
I took my problem to the rector. I told him I followed my Rule of Life faithfully by reading Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer with the accompanying scriptures, saying prayers at noon, attending Mass almost every morning, as well as all extra services and a regular teaching class. I gave service to the church in many ways, even instigating and organizing an infant nursery so people with small children could attend worship services in comfort. I felt I really had a private relationship with God as well, and yet there was something missing. He looked sorrowful and said he understood exactly what I meant -- that he felt the same way.
My frustration grew. And then I went on retreat and an Anglo-Catholic monk said some things that changed the parish, changed me, and made news in both the secular and religious press throughout most of the world.
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AOTGA - Act 1 Cont'd
He shocked us. He stunned us. He wasn't a Malcolm Boyd or a Daniel Berrigan. He was a conservative Episcopal priest, and he said what to us was shattering. He said, "Christians should be down on their knees praying for forgiveness for their neglect of the Holy Spirit. They don't have any idea what He is supposed to be doing."
Usually one goes home from retreat with various pleasant feelings: relaxation, increased sense of commitment, and perhaps a measure of self-righteousness thrown in. This retreat was different. Some people went back with a feeling of frustration -- a feeling of not knowing all the answers. Everything in our lives had been so pat up until then. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, the Purifier, the Santifier, the One Who makes us holy. But who felt holy? And where was the punch the early Church had? And who among us could honestly say, as the apostles could, "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and us"?
So secretly some of the women began to pray. No, they didn't pray for anything dramatic. How could they? They didn't know about anything dramatic. They prayed that the Holy Spirit would come to St Mark's Episcopal Church in Van Nuys, California, USA, with power. They didn't know exactly what they meant, and they certainly didn't intend it to be spectacular; but He did come and spectacular it was, for He came with power. But when He came we didn't recognize Him. You understand. We hadn't expected Him to come like that.
I first heard about it at a dinner party. A member of the vestry casually remarked that a priest from Monterey Park had confided at the weekly men's group that a couple in his church claimed they spoke in the unknown tongues that are mentioned in the Bible. No one said anything. What was there to say? No one who was there had ever heard of such a thing, so how could they comment? How could it have anything to do with normal twentieth-century suburbanites? But it did.
The next time the subject was broached in my hearing was when, as president of St Mary's Guild, I had an appointment with the rector to discuss a guild matter. He didn't seem interested in what I was saying and finally said, "Jean, I have something to share with you that I think you will be interested in." I said, "Yes, Father?" He continued, "The other day I drove to Monterey Park --" I interrupted him. After all, no one just goes to Monterey Park -- it's about forty miles away. I said, "You mean those people who claim to speak in the unknown tongue that St Paul wrote about--"
I didn't know anything about it and can't imagine what made me say anything since I normally keep quiet if I don't know about a subject. But I found myself saying, "Well, Father, it's completely scriptural. I don't know if it's valid or not." He said, "Jean, I speak in tongues," and I was absolutely horrified. All I could think was, "I never did really trust him; he used to be a Congregationalist."
And that was my introduction to an experience, to a movement, that many religious leaders claim outranks the Reformation in its impact.
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AOTGA - Act 1 Cont'd (last bit)
I knew what he wanted. He had made it clear, and I had been coldly uncooperative. He wanted me to ask him to speak in this new "language" he had somehow acquired. He wanted to show me that it wasn't wild, peculiar, or emotional. And that's exactly what I thought it was. When I look back upon it I don't know why I had that impression of the experience, because prior to hearing about the Bakers in Monterey Park I did not have the vaguest idea that anyone in the world claimed to speak in other languages given by the Holy Spirit. I knew there was a religious group with the name Pentecostal, but they were called "Holy Rollers" and I thought they rolled. No one had ever told me they speak in tongues.
So I was going to be a good sport. I telephoned the rector and told him I would like to hear him speak in the "language." He cleared his throat and I hastily said, "Not over the telephone -- I'll come to the office." So I made an appointment to hear the rector of a staid, respectable Episcopal Church speak in tongues. How far out could it get? Farther.
When I arrived at the church I discovered the rector was involved with an emergency and I would have to wait. So I chatted with the church administrator about this unusual happening. She said that since Father had built St. Mark's from a congregation of 200 to a congregation of 2600, this proved that speaking in tongues was of the devil. I didn't quite follow her reasoning and the devil hadn't been included in my curriculum, but I decided that just in case she was right I had better go into church and pray for protection before I saw the minister. An acquaintance of mine was in the chapel, and he asked me why I was there at that time of day. I told him I had come to hear the rector speak in tongues. He said, "You shouldn't just hear it; you should receive it."
This was a new thought altogether. What had all of this to do with me? What had it to do with this man? I asked him what he knew about the whole thing and he confided that he spoke in tongues. I was shaken. This was a serious Anglo-Catholic layman speaking. It was getting too close for comfort. From somewhere he produced the autobiography of St Theresa of Avila and showed me what obviously referred to St Theresa, herself, speaking in a language unknown to her and yet known to God. I considered St Theresa to have been everything I would like to be -- wonderfully spiritual and at the same time amazingly practical. I had once read a biography of her and upon reaching the final sentence of the work, had been delighted to discover that my birthday fell upon "her" day. I secretly considered her as "belonging" to me. And now this man had just told me that my heroine had spoken in tongues! While I recovered from the shock, the layman marked a church Bible with the passages pertaining to glossolalia (speaking in languages unknown to the speaker), handed it to me, and departed, leaving me to my confused thoughts.
I prayed. I read the passages. I prayed. I arrived at so many different ideas regarding the experience that I couldn't catalog them. There appeared to be a link between receiving the Holy Spirit in some special way and speaking in tongues. I was sure I had received the Holy Spirit in a special way at the imposition of the hands of the bishop, in confirmation. They said that I had. And don't ask about that experience because it hadn't lived up to its advance billing and when recalling it I had always felt uncomfortable.
From reading the places in the Bible that the layman had marked, I decided that in the early years of the Church people received the gift of the Holy Spirit and then spoke in tongues. I amended this to myself: "That was then. This is now. It doesn't happen that way anymore." But as I continued to read, I failed to find any time limits attached to any of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Rather, there were positive statements such as, "These signs shall follow them that believe," and speaking in tongues was one of the signs mentioned. Most confusing.
I finally shelved it all with the conclusion that I didn't really care what the Bible said on the subject. If my Church believed that speaking in other tongues by the Holy Spirit was for now, I would have heard about it. Since I had not, this proved the Church did not, and I wasn't having any, thank you. The administrator appeared and beckoned to me. I went in to see Father Bennett.
The Reverend Dennis J. Bennett was a quiet, mild-looking clergyman who had been born in London. About the last thing anyone would have accused him of was emotionalism. He didn't appear to have changed.
He began to tell me of the difference in himself since he had received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He said that he had a new peace in the middle of trying situations; that he had a deeper concern for the people of the parish; that Holy Communion was more meaningful for him. I thought to myself, "You surely needed all that, but I already have everything." I ostentatiously looked at my watch and said, "I have to go now: would you please speak in that language?"
He said, "If you like," and quietly and calmly spoke several sentences in tongues. While he spoke he looked quite normal and his eyes were wide open. It certainly didn't appear to be an emotional type of thing. But something happened to me while he was speaking. It was very strange and I didn't tell him about it -- I felt pretty silly. When he spoke it was as though electricity surged through me -- from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet. I tried to puzzle it out, outwardly looking as stiff and Anglican as possible. I couldn't figure it; it couldn't have anything to do with that language.
"Say something else," I requested. He knew what I meant and again said several sentences in the language which had been given by God. The same thing occurred. Nothing like that had ever happened to me before. I knew God was in that room and I had come face to face with His power. I wasn't frightened, but I felt awed and rather excited and I knew I had to attend one of the meetings of the people who had received this strange gift. Dennis said I couldn't go because I hadn't "received." That was odd. I didn't know how, I didn't know I could, and I didn't know if I wanted to "receive." But I knew I was going to that prayer meeting. I did, and what a peculiar experience that was --
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AOTGA - Act 2
Everything that happened at the prayer meeting (as they called it) upset me. They began by reading Evening Prayer sitting down. I was disturbed. I thought they should have knelt at the places where we kneel in church. I didn't think they were being properly reverent. One man quietly said, "Praise God," and it really frightened me. I didn't know it was possible to praise God without a prayer book. But what bothered me the most was that everyone seemed so happy. Whoever heard of being happy at a prayer meeting?
I had expected them to say Evening Prayer (kneeling reverently), have coffee, gossip a bit, and go home. Those peculiar Episcopalians prayed and talked until nearly 2:30 in the morning: I discovered later that I had been such a damper on everything that they had gone home early.
The evening produced some odd events. One woman, while breathing rather heavily, spoke in a strange Oriental-sounding language. It was weird to witness. It made such an impression on me (primarily unfavorable) that it was months before I discovered that if God wants someone to speak in tongues in public, it is possible for them to do so without panting.
The strangest feature of the evening, to my mind, was the behavior of my friends. I later discovered the reason. John Baker, one half of the couple from Monterey Park who had started it all, was there. There were perhaps a dozen people in the room -- all Episcopalians -- and they had all received this gift when John Baker had laid hands on their heads and prayed to God to send the Holy Spirit upon them.
Now my friends thought I had come to receive the gift. I hadn't. I didn't know what I was doing there. They thought that I was probably shy, would like to receive with no one else around, and that John Baker could pray for me alone. However, they didn't bother to tell me their reasoning. But a number of times during the evening one of them would lean forward and whisper to me, "Jean, don't you want to go into the kitchen with John?" I had never seen John before in my entire life and the last thing I wanted to do was go into the kitchen with him. I privately decided this speaking in tongues had unhinged their minds. I didn't want to go into the kitchen with John and I didn't know why anyone would want me to. I thought they were all irreverent and strange and I couldn't get away because I had promised my friend that I wouldn't leave until she did.
It got worse. They wanted to pray for me to receive this gift. They actually wanted to put their hands on my head. I wouldn't have allowed anyone but a priest to put his hands upon my head for any reason whatsoever, and I certainly didn't want anything these odd people had. I refused. They silently prayed. I knew what they were praying. They were praying for me to receive the Holy Spirit. I was also praying. I was praying, "Lord Jesus, get me out of here. These people are crazy."
The more they urged me to receive the gift the more annoyed I became. I was sure I had everything. After all, I had been in the church all of my life and some of these people were just new converts. I was sure that I worked harder for and prayed more to God than any of them. Eventually they disbanded, and I took my pride and self-righteousness and left.
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AOTGA - Act 2 Cont'd
A sermon I had recently heard came back to me. The priest had said, "If there's anything wrong with your life -- any jealousy, bitterness, resentment, lack of love for other people -- it's because you don't love Jesus enough." That was probably the most frustrating sermon I had ever heard because I knew there were many things wrong in my life and I didn't want them there. I knew I didn't love Jesus enough, but the heartbreaking part was that I desperately wanted to love Him more. How do you make yourself love someone?
And then it occurred to me. That was what those people had found. That was why they were different. They had found how to love Jesus more. I realize now that this is sound theology since any experience with the Holy Spirit would reveal Jesus Christ more clearly, and the more clearly we see Him the more we love Him. But I didn't know that then. I only knew that they had something I didn't have. I prayed aloud while driving down Sepulveda Boulevard, "Lord, if this is of You, I want it." And right there God baptized me with the Holy Spirit, and I spoke in a language I had never learned. And that was the beginning.
The next morning I didn't believe a word of it. In the clear light of day how could I possibly believe that God, Himself, would give me a new language? Me, an ordinary person -- and to make it more unbelievable, a woman?
And yet, somehow, I couldn't abandon the idea. To prove to myself how ridiculous it was, I decided to make up a language. After all, any intelligent person should be able to put together something reasonable sounding. But when I tried my mind blanked out and all I could think of was the world "gobbledygook," which is hardly original.
My friend came to my house and talked some more. I listened but didn't respond. How could I believe God had given me that language when lightning hadn't flashed or thunder rolled -- in fact when nothing whatsoever appeared to have transpired?
Alone I prayed. And again I prayed softly in some words I didn't know -- and believe me when I say that I have never felt more foolish in my life. That just couldn't be "it"!
People from the parish asked, "Do you have what the rest of them have?" I told them I did not. I certainly did not have the peace or joy they all claimed to have. I felt miserable.
Many people attempted to set my thinking straight -- or to get my thinking the way they felt it should be -- depending upon which side they were on. I was as anxious as any of them to have my thinking clear, but didn't know what to do about it.
One day after talking to God in those little baby words I tracked down Joan Baker's telephone number. I had never met Joan but I figured her for the expert. I related what had happened and asked her if that could be "it." She said she couldn't tell unless I would speak in the language. Speak aloud for her to listen? I would sooner have passed out religious tracts in Times Square. So I wrote the words phonetically and read them to her over the telephone! She still laughs at that. Naturally she couldn't get much of an idea from my reading off a piece of paper over the telephone. However, she assumed it was probably from the Holy Spirit and explained that God was trying to teach me a language and that I should pray in it regularly to "practice" it. Practice what? I only had about four words -- and I didn't believe those.
One night after a prayer gathering I went home with a future seminarian and his wife. The wife had received the baptism of the Spirit in the bedroom while the seminarian had been in the living room telling Father Maguire why they were not interested in the phenomenon. Soon after the seminarian received.
That night we discussed the gift of the Spirit and Peggy suggested that I talk to Father Maguire. They arranged to have him present the next time I visited.
Father Maguire was the vicar of the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Episcopal Church in Monterey Park where the Bakers had been members when the Spirit visited them. Since that time he had been baptized with the Spirit.
During the discussion held at my second visit, I requested the three of them to speak in tongues. I wanted to see if it would be as striking to me as it was the first time I had heard it. It was not. It was simply three people all speaking in different languages.
Peggy said if I spoke in tongues Father Maguire might be able to understand it and might have the interpretation of the language. Father Maguire explained that would not be possible as interpretation is not something one turns on and off; rather, when God desires to say something through these media, He impresses someone to speak in a given language, and then He gives to that person, or to another, the explanation of what was said.
Peggy continued to push me to speak. At last I did and immediately Father Maguire interpreted. It was wonderful. It was beautiful. It was for me, and I still remember it. At last I began to believe I had really received the gift of the Holy Spirit. But if so, how badly I had behaved. I had denied it and refused to accept the speech as having originated with God. How I must have grieved the Holy Spirit. Small wonder I was feeling miserable.
I made an appointment with my confessor and went to confession. There I poured out the story of how I had grieved the Holy Spirit and prayed for forgiveness. Such joy came upon me that both my confessor and myself ended up speaking in tongues. As I rose from my knees I understood three things that had baffled me for my entire Christian life, and I really understood them. No amount of explanation had ever clarified these doctrinal points for me, but now the Holy Spirit had done so ina few minutes. I suddenly knew the meaning of loving people in Christ; I saw how God uses the ordinary and makes it holy; and I understood what praise is and why it is important. And then the rain fell -- but it turned into a flood --
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AOTGA - Act 3
The curate was in charge of the youth group. He was driving two members home and they stopped in Denny's Coffee Shop for a coke. The kids said something was happening in the parish, and they wanted to know what it was. The curate said he wasn't allowed to tell. They kept at him, so he told them a bit. And right there in Denny's Coffee Shop, the Holy Spirit came upon those two teen-agers and tears came into their eyes as they asked to received. The curate called the rector. The rector said no.
The curate escorted them to the car, where they sat and shook and cried until he prayed for them and they began to speak in new languages.
A crippled woman was healed and drove her car home from church. A woman was instantaneously healed of shingles. Atheists and agnostics became Christians. Lackadaisical believers became keen Christians who gave ten percent of their income to God and shared Jesus Christ with anyone who would listen. Sad people turned happy. Overly introspective people grew interested in others. It was an exciting time.
One day I was driving and singing in the Spirit. Suddenly I knew what I was singing in the language God had given me. I was singing part of the words of an old song, but to a different tune, and it had something else tacked on:
"Go out through the streets and the byways,
Preach the word to the many or few;
For I'm calling them into the Kingdom,
And I'm calling them in through you."
It was interesting but it couldn't really be the interpretation, I thought; God only used men in our church. The Spirit was beginning to teach us, but at that time we still did not have ears to hear.
One day my friend Thelma and I were having breakfast at the International House of Pancakes. Over the pancakes and boysenberry syrup, I told her about my experience with the Holy Spirit. Her answer was, "I'm very happy for you, Jean, but you've always been more religious than I am."
Not long after, I was in her apartment in Van Nuys and her daughter, Nancy, was there as well. Of course we were talking about the Holy Spirit and the incredible happenings. What could be half so fascinating? In the middle of it I said, "Nancy, I understand why you don't want to receive the gift until your husband does, but Thelma, I can't understand why you don't want to."
In a small voice Nancy said, "I want to."
Thelma spoke out with, "Who said I didn't want to?"
I felt like the punch line in the joke: "Oh, my God, what do I do now?" Only I was serious.
I telephoned the rector to ask him to pray for Thelma and Nancy. He was out of town. In desperation I resorted to trying to reach some layman. No one was available. Thelma said, "Can't you pray for us?"
"Well," I thought, "There's no harm in trying." We all three prayed and asked God to pour out His Holy Spirit and He did and they both had new languages. I had learned a curious truth: God even uses women.
One night after guild meeting, while driving a young housewife to her home, I found myself saying, "Have you heard about the Holy Spirit?"
She looked at me as though I had lost my mind and answered, "Of course I've heard about the Holy Spirit."
"No, I mean what He is doing in the parish."
"I don't think so. Tell me." And it all tumbled out. She went home and awakened her husband at 1:00 AM to tell him what was going on. A day or so later she invited me to visit her. She made it clear that she wasn't interested in participating -- just curious. As I was relating some of teh extraordinary happenings and reading passages from one of Agnes Sanford's books, she interrupted.
"I want it."
"I want to receive right now." And she did -- a rich and beautiful language of praise and worship to which I received the interpretation. We were both happy enough to burst. God was in His Heaven and all was right with the world!
I don't mean to give the impression that everything was perfect all the time -- far from it. Some people were jealous and remained so. Others became disloyal to their friends, and pressure intensified this character trait rather than improving it. And there was pressure. Two of the priests of the parish had received the gift, and two were violently opposed. This naturally caused tension. For myself, I think I did everything wrong it is possible to do. We were very new and confused and like apple trees in the spring -- our fruit was small and green. But God was good and sent us a bit of help.
A number of us had remained very naive about the Christian community. We still thought God revolved around our particular segment of the Church. Surprisingly enough, we thought we were the Church.
For me the change began when Father whispered to me one day, "I'll tell you something if you won't tell anyone."
"The other day I went to a place that was very strange. There were a lot of people there and some of them were rather odd looking. There were young people, old people, poor people and rich people. But they all had one thing in common: they loved Jesus."
I asked if I could take a friend and go. He agreed and told me how to get there. He had made it sound so mysterious that I was apprehensive. I almost expected to have to knowck on a door and say, "Joe sent me" to an eye peering through a peephole.
It wasn't like that at all. Everyone bought his own breakfast in a cafeteria and went upstairs to eat it. Afterward they sang and people told of good things that God had accomplished in their lives. In the middle of the service, the telephone rang. The leader was called to the telephone and came back visibly shaken. He said his four-day-old granddaughter was dying of jaundice. He asked a young man to pray for the granddaughter. The young man prayed into the microphone and asked God to heal the baby. Then he quietly began to speak in tongues. I didn't know the language he was speaking, but from God I received the sense of what was said. I turned to my friend and whispered, "He said, 'I am the Lord thy God. I have healed before and I will heal this baby.'"
A young man stood up and said, "Danny spoke French. I don't speak French very well, but I could understand some of it. God said the baby would be healed." He sat down.
A man close to us stood up and said, "I majored in French and speak it well. I have written down what was said in French and have translated it for you." He held up the paper. Above the French words was written, more or less, this translation: "I am the Lord thy God. I have healed before and I will heal this baby."
I don't need to tell you that the baby was healed. Of course she was, but we didn't find that out until later. However, we felt we had seen a miracle. It was the first time we had ever known someone under the influence of the Holy Spirit to speak a known language, someone else to receive the interpretation from God, and a third party to be able to translate the language. To us it seemed an extraordinary experience. Now it no longer seems so, since I have seen it happen many times. Always wonderful, but not extraordinary.
We dashed back to Van Nuys and the rector's house to share what had happened. Paul Castle was there, questioning the rector about the unorthodox occurrences at St. Mark's. I knew Paul well. He was an usher in the church and used to take photographs free of charge to advertise our fashion shows. What I didn't know was that he was an atheist.
We poured out our story. Can you imagine the effect of this on an atheist? Paul knew us; he knew we weren't crazy and we weren't liars. If this had really happaned, and it obviously had, then there must be a God. If there is a God, He might very well have a Son Jesus Christ --
Paul isn't an atheist anymore. He is one of the most active Christian layman I knew -- and now, thirteen years later, he is entering seminary.
So that's how we came into contact with the Pentecostals. Previous to this I thought we were the only people in the world who spoke in tongues -- the only apples in a whole basket of oranges. What a relief to find other apples in the basket!
We had a prayer meeting on Wednesday mornings at Thelma's house at which the rector was in charge. We loved the meeting, but we didn't have any idea what we were doing. This will shatter you, but we used to take turns praying in tongues. You see, we didn't know the rules -- and we didn't know the Bible either! Finally I decided I wasn't going to take my turn anymore unless I felt an actual desire to speak in tongues. Father agreed that was a good idea. When people stopped praying in the Spirit in the group, and only spoke in tongues when they felt a "push" from the Spirit to do so, something interesting began to happen. After someone had spoken in tongues someone else would say in amazement, "I know what he said," and would proceed to interpret. Others could confirm the interpretation because they had received the same one. To us it was remarkable.
But every now and then something would come up that we didn't understand at all. It appeared to me that if the Pentecostals had known of this dimension all along, they might be able to supply some of the answers. So I would check the telephone book and telephone three Pentecostal ministers and (without giving my name) describe to them what had happened, asking for the explanation. If they all concurred, I decided that must be the answer and told Father what they said. Father then explained it to the group, and few of them ever knew where it had actually originated. I frequently tell the Pentecostals that if we don't have the same doctrine it's because no three of them could agree!
At that time one of the chief sources of information was the Rev. Leslie Hodges. Since then he told a minister friend that during that year he had a full-time pastoral ministry by telephone!
Many people have told me of the difficulty they have had with Pentecostals. The ministers we had contact with had been prepared by God to help us, and they used great wisdom and remarkable restraint. I remember one minister particularly -- we'll call him Mr. Smith, primarily because that is his name. Mr. Smith had what is known as a "holiness" background and was violently opposed to smoking, among other things. At that time I smoked about three packages daily. I buttonholed him one time (looking for an argument) and said I couldn't see anything wrong with smoking. He quietly said that he thought I was quite right -- that in the past they had put too much emphasis on outward things. It took the wind right out of my saids. If he had argued with me, I might still be smoking. As it was, within a month I had stopped cold and I have never smoked since. Mr. Hodges once told me that as I was such a serious Christian and it had taken me that long to stop smoking, I should be sure I never attempted to badger anyone. Instead, I should allow God to handle it His way.
There were things that we didn't agree with (and still don't) in Pentecostal doctrine and Pentecostal church services. But we found that the ministers didn't even agree with those things themselves. They were not born of conviction but of tradition. We have tried to do away with this tradition and the legalism of past generations in the prayer groups we have begun, but without the Pentecostals we wouldn't have known what to avoid or what to stress. The telephone ministry was a great help to us. And for me, personally, it was a real source of comfort to have someone spiritual I could really talk to, because about this time things exploded at St. Mark's. When I think back upon my weekly hour-long telephone calls to Mr. Smith and Mr. Hodges during that period, I realize that the recital of my adventures must have sounded to them like "The Perils of Pauline."
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AOTGA - Act 4
One woman was very joyous over what, to her, was a wonderful new relationship with God. She was so happy that as she went about her church duties (she was the librarian) she sometimes gave a little skip. They said she was crazy. Seeing that she was displeasing some members, she went back to her customary solemn exterior. They commented, "Well, it didn't do her any good." Amazing stories were told. One elderly lady who had never attended a prayer meeting (and I doubt ever has since) told people she had been to one of those meetings and they all "rubbed elbows." A priest spread the rumor that we all sat in a circle and worshipped the rector. A teen-ager claimed the men held the women's ankles. Someone asserted that one of the men who had received the gift said he had a flower growing out of his tongue. The rumors circulated wildly and grew more and more illogical. Something had to happen. Something did when the rector preached at all three services on Passion Sunday, 1960, telling of his experience with the Holy Spirit and of how meaningful it was to him.
Nothing visible occurred at the 7:30 AM service; but at the 9:00 AM service one priest tore off his vestments, threw them on the altar, publicly resigned, and stormed out of the church. Confusion reigned. A man followed the priest out, ran up to him and said, "I'm right behind you, Father. Anything you and Father Bennett do is fine with me!" One man followed the rector when he left the church to commiserate with him because he thought he was having trouble with his wife. Few seemed to grasp what was happening.
I had Altar Guild duty after the 9:00 AM service and Father Bennett told me he was going to resign at the 11:00 AM service. I was against it, but he informed me it was merely a strategic move. The older priest came in then and cleverly "elbowed" me out as I tried to argue Dennis out of resigning. He obviously did not want Dennis to change his mind. This was later made clear in a letter from him received by a doctor, saying in part, "We had someone here who spoke in tongues. We got rid of him and don't want any more of it."
Father Bennett thought that since he had built the church from 200 to 2,600 people, the vestry would not let him resign. However, they would and they did.
At the eleven o'clock service, the rector repeated the story of his experience to the congregation. He also told them of the associate priest's resignation at the earlier service, and tendered his own resignation. The other associate, with the rector's permission, then arose and gave a short address to the effect that this sort of thing could not be tolerated in reputable churches. Rectors would come and go, he said, but he would remain. Things would proceed as usual at St. Mark's.
Father Bennett retired to his home after the service, but the two opposing associate priests spoke to groups of people on the patio asserting that the experience the rector and the leaders of the church had received was heretical and not to be condoned. The curate, who had received the baptism, was new to the church. Since he had only recently been ordained to the priesthood, he was not in a position to do much of anything.
Since the rector employs the assistants, by his resignation the church automatically became devoid of any clergy whatsoever. In the space of a few hours, a four-clergy parish had dwindled to a no-clergy parish.
There was much emotion among the involved parties, but the majority of the people did not comprehend what had taken place. My telephone rang for weeks with people inquiring what it was all about. I remember saying to one housewife, "But weren't you there Sunday? Didn't you hear his sermon?" She said, "Yes, but all I understood was that he's had a religious experience. What's wrong with that? I thought priests were supposed to have religious experiences." Not at St. Mark's.
There was some humor in the Passion Sunday events. I had been trying to persuade a sophisticated and attractive couple to attend St. Mark's. Of all Sundays, Passion Sunday was the time they chose for their maiden visit. When the service was over, we all left the church. My head was down and I was blushing with embarrassment over the controversy, when their daughter spoke up with, "I don't see what everyone is so excited about. My grandmother speaks in tongues all the time."
After every Sunday service, one sweet, little elderly lady would invariably approach the curate and say, "It was a lovely service, Father." On this particular Sunday the rector reported that he had been filled with the Holy Ghost and had spoken with other tongues; one associate resigned; one associate proclaimed that such things could not be tolerated; the rector resigned; the curate was automatically unemployed; women wept and strong men left the church with drawn brow. And that same sweet, little elderly lady took the curate's hand and said, "It was a lovely service, Father."
The rector was given three months to find another position. The three months were full of prayer meetings, information gatherings, plans and confusion. People felt threatened and insecure. No one knew what to do about anything. Sometimes it seemed as though the rector had a different plan every week. Satan began to take advantage of the situation with gossip, confusion and fear. "together we stand; divided we fall" isn't a bad maxim. We fell.
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AOTGA - Act 4 Cont'd
One night I was in bed reading a book. I was alone in the house except for my dog, which I had owned for many years. She was lying beside my bed. I was aware of a presence in the room. I didn't say anything or move but the dog knew also -- she began to whimper. She had never done anything like that before or since. The sense of someone's being there was so intense that I got out of bed and knelt beside it and began to pray. I was facing the crucifix on the wall, and a light shone from it just as it had on the morning of my conversion. I asked Christ what He wanted from me. I knew He was there. I told Him I would give up everything and I would do anything He asked. I meant it.
Suddenly I knew what He wanted me to relinquish, but I didn't know why. I also knew what He wanted me to do, and I didn't like it. He wanted me to stop attending the Episcopal Church and to join a Pentecostal church. Such a thing had never occurred to me. I hated the idea. The Episcopal Church meant a great deal to me. Security, the sense of belonging to an elite group -- I love it for all the wrong reasons. There on my knees I told God I would join a Pentecostal church. I was so confused that to me it was as though I had stepped from Park Avenue into the gutter. It was wrong but that's how I felt.
As I promised Him I would make this sacrifice, the room filled with an odor of perfume. My hands became damp. I thought they were perspiring and I rubbed them together, but it was not perspiration: they were oily. I rubbed the oil off on teh blanket and it returned to my hands. I smelled them and they were fragrant. Three times I removed the oil and three times it returned. I had never heard of such a thing, and I didn't understand it, but I assumed it was a sign of the presence of Christ. I later discovered that I couldn't talk about this experience to Pentecostals. It upset them terribly. It seems that at the beginning of the outpouring of the Spirit in their circles such things had occurred and unscrupulous men had tried to capitalize on these manifestations; thus in their groups speaking about "oil" is verboten. But you see, we didn't know the rules.
So I joined a Pentecostal church. And because of that I missed a lot of the infighting and I really found out firsthand what Pentecos was all about -- both the good things and the things to avoid. It was quite an education.
Of course, I was banned by my friends; but then I had been rapidly becoming unpopular anyway. I wouldn't conform. I truly wanted to, but somehow it never seemed to work out that way. The peculiar part of it is that before I was baptized in the Spirit I had conformed much more successfully. Perhaps that was the reason they couldn't accept me the new way. But how could I soft-pedal something that had transformed my life so fatastically. This was what I had been looking for all those years without knowing it. This was the power that activated the early Christian Church.
Father Bennett had gotten a small church in Seattle and was packing to leave. He said he would never tell anyone about the Holy Spirit as long as he lived. He had had it. I was shattered -- completely shattered. God-wise, my security had been in the church and my parish priest. I felt as if I were falling apart. I grieved over the fact that the Episcopal Church would not accept this remarkable gift. But the day arrived when I was over the hump; I knew I was going to follow God no matter what everyone else did. I felt very much alone.
People frequently confide to me that they are afraid to do a particular thing that they know is right because their motives may be wrong. I have come to the conclusion that if one waited until one's motives were perfect, one would never do anything. I thought, "Father thinks this has to be a part of the Episcopal Church -- I'll get it into the Episcopal Church for him." How wrong can one's motives be?
I telephoned Time magazine and told them the story. "We wouldn't be interested in that sort of thing," they haughtily informed me. I telephoned Newsweek and they sent one of their best men out for an interview. I met him at 9:00 AM at Coffee Dan's in Van Huys and gave him the whole story. He wanted to know where he could reach Father Bennett. I knew Dennis had an appointment at 10:00 AM so he would be at the house at 10:30 AM. I suggested the reporter be there then and not mention who sent him. I was rapidly acquiring a reputation of being "too Pentecostal" because I felt strongly about the importance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the use of the gifts of the Spirit, and in my zeal I made a lot of stupid mistakes. However, this didn't turn out to be one of them.
Newsweek wrote up the story of the furor at St. Mark's, and the story went all over the world. But I didn't think they had delved deeply enough; I felt that every Christian was entitled to hear that there was something more for believers -- something so exciting and effectual that nearly two thousand years previously the people who possessed this gift were known as "the men who turned the world upside down."
I wrote a letter to Time magazine in New York. I told them I had called Time in Los Angeles and had been told they were not interested, while Newsweek had been interested enough to do a one-page story on teh singular events, and I didn't think they had scratched the surface. Shortly after a reporter came from New York. We told her everything and took her to a prayer meeting. She was an atheist. At the end of the prayer meeting she said, "At least the split in your church was over something valid." And that from an acknowledged atheist.
Things happened thick and fast. In Seattle, Father Bennett's vestry read the articles in Newsweek and Time and eneded up baptized with the Holy Spirit. I had been ostracized by my friends, and now suddenly they wanted me to be head of a new prayer group. And I had learned a great deal at the Pentecostal church I attended. The people were kind and good, and they were wonderful to me. But one thing bothered me. They were only interested in their chruch, their families and their missionaries. When I told them what was happening in the world outside, they humored me; but they appeared to have no vital concern for anythign apart from their private bailiwick. I did. I was fired with it. I couldn't bear people's not knowing about Jesus Christ and Him crucified and the power of the resurrection. I didn't know how to go about communicating Him but I burned with the desire to do so.
By this time The Living Church, the Episcopal publication, had picked up the news. There was a letter in the magazine from a priest who said he used to be a Pentecostal. He had received the gift many years before and found it exciting but said that it wore off. I knew he was wrong. I knew he hadn't really discovered what it was all about. I knew it wouldn't wear off. I'm writing this thirteen years later and I am more sure now than I was then that this is the secret of the New Testament Church.
I answered the letter.
Later, as I was praying, a curious thought crept into mind that I should talk to a priest whom I had not previously met. I had only heard his name. I felt foolish, but the desire persisted. I telephoned his church and made an appointment to see him. I deliberately made the appointment for the following week, so that when the desire to talk to him left me (and I fervently hoped it would) I could cancel.
The day arrived and the feeling was stronger than ever. What would I say? I didn't have the vaguest idea. I went. When I walked in Father G. asked, "What parish are you from?" The question took me by surprise, and before I realized what I was saying I replied, "St. Mark's." An expression of interest crossed his face. "Do you know anything about speaking in tongues?"
"Quite a lot."
"Father Williams wrote in The Living Church --" and he proceeded to read Father William' letter.
I fished in my purse. "I just happened to have a letter I was sending to The Living Church to answer Father William."
He read the letter and suddenly jumped from his chair, kicking it over in the process, and said enthusiastically, "But this is the answer. This is what the church is missing, isn't it?"
I modestly stated, "I think so."
And we talked. And talked. And talked.
Two days later Paul Castle and I went to the church to pray with him and he was baptized in the Holy Spirit.
And then it really broke loose. It seemed the committee appointed by Father Bennett before he left us had decreed that women were not allowed to pray for priests!
Paul Castle, a member of that committee, was called on the carpet and I was in the soup again.
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AOTGA - Act 5 Cont'd
And then there was the architect in England. Someone lent him a Trinity and he read it all of the way through. That night as he was taking a bath he said to God, "I wish I could have that gift." Immediately he began to speak to God in a language he didn't know. He wrote that the language gushed out and he was afraid to leave the tub for fear it would cease. However, the water was getting cold. At last he cautiously eased himself out of the tub. The language continued, but he decided he had better not brush his teeth that night!
One unusual story came from a layman who has since become a minister. He was enthusiastic in his experience, and one night at Trinity Chapel I requested him to tell the people how and where he had received the baptism in the Spirit. He seemed reluctant but really had no choice as I had asked him publicly. He spoke briefly, without much punch, and didn't give a single detail of how he had received the Spirit. Later I asked why. He blushed and said his story was a little different to communicate to others as he had been sitting on the loo praying when God visited him! When one of our group spoke in a Pentecostal church, it used to be routine for the minister to inform the congregation that "God is no respecter of persons" (i.e., God is even interested in Episcopalians). Now we know that He is no respecter of places either.
Trinity went to Yale, Wheaton, Princeton, Dartmouth, and many other colleges, and was quoted extensively. It cause quite a stir in some circles. When the men at Yale were filled with the Holy Spirit, Time Magazine titled the story, "Blue Tongues." An Episcopal priest wrote an amusing bit of doggerel and read it at a Trinity luncheon:
The great historic churches seem dignified, we know,
And that is how the leaders would have the picture show.
But rumors have been flying of strangest goings on,
Just talked about in whispers, from secret sources drawn.
The fears are strong and many lest this be noised about,
The cupboard door be opened, the skeleton get out.
The fact is -- glossolalia, which holy rollers boost,
Within historic churches has lately come to roost.
And if God's frozen people begin this thawing out,
The world may stop and listen what the Christian faith's about.
The world can still ignore it when preachers burst their lungs,
But never when God's frozen begin to speak in tongues.
Come now, read all about it, and here behind the screen
We'll sell you hottest copies of Trinity Magazine
Trinity was part of the scene.
In fact, Trinity was so much a part of the scene (even though members of the church hierarchy were pretending it did not exist) that at an Episcopal Diocesan Convention, when the microphone was sending forth words unintelligible to the ear, someone said, "It sounds like Trinity," and brought down the house.
However, it was difficult to ignore something that was getting as much publicity as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was being written about more and more frequently in both religious and secular publications. I had written some articles for magazines and been interviewed for others. Both ministers and laity of all denominations were receiving the gift of the Spirit in increasing numbers. We had begun Christian Advance, which was a series of meetings to acquaint interested people with the work of God in His Church in the twentieth century. They were very effective.
Trinity had been born in the fall of 1961. It made a strong enough impression that a committee of seven bishops headed by the Rt Rev Chandler W Sterling, was appointed to investigate glossolalia. The result was a cautious but favorable statement issued by the committee accepting glossolalia as a "Gift of God." My plan to have the Episcopal Church recognize speaking in tongues as a genuine religious experience had already borne fruit. But God had more in mind.
Eight of us went to an Anglo-Catholic church one Sunday morning. Father Bob, the rector, was interested to see such a large group attending and wanted to talk to us. In those days we only had one subject of conversation. The next week he came to a prayer meeting, was prayed for, and spoke in tongues. He was blissful about his experience but told us later that he had been singing in that language ever since he was confirmed! He had had no idea it possessed significance.
Shortly afterward Father Bob was approached by the rector of the other Episcopal church in his city. "Bob," he said, "I want to warn you that there are Episcopalians who speak in tongues. You might even have some in your church. The funny thing about it is they look like anyone else." Little did he know he was talking to one of those "tongue-speakers."
When Father Bob took his vacation, his substitute was the Rev Cameron Harriot, a priest who had just come from Alaska. While I was out of town, my friends told Father Harriot about the Spirit and brought him to my house to pray for him. I began to think they didn't have houses of their own. Or perhaps they were like the young man who talked to the famous Smith Wigglesworth. Smith Wigglesworth was a plumber baptized in the Spirit in England around 1907 when an Anglican canon's wife prayed with him. He became a Pentecostal minister of great renown. One day Smith came out of a church where he had been preaching and found a young man sobbing in the doorway. He inquired what was wrong and the young man confided he had been seeking the baptism in the Spirit and God had not given it to him. Smith exclaimed, "Oh, is that all you want. God, fill him with the Holy Spirit," and he struck him on the head. The boy burst out speaking in tongues. Later the fellow rounded up all of his friends who had been desiring the Spirit, lined them up in the doorway and said, "This is where you get it." Perhaps my friends thought my house was where you got "it."
I was on a plane for San Francisco when an Episcopal priest and his wife sat in the seats in front of me. On my lap was a copy of Trinity and on top of it a copy of The Living Church. As the priest was putting their coats in the luggage rack, he saw The Living Church and commented, "I see you're one of ours." Later when he turned around I was reading The Living Church, exposing Trinity to view. "Trinity!" he exclaimed, "Do you know anything about that?" I confessed I did and spent the hour to San Francisco answering his questions. That night he and his wife and young daughter came to the Episcopal church to hear me speak. His daughter committed herself to Jesus Christ. His wife was baptized with the Spirit and he would have been too, but every time we tried to pray someone interrupted us. Imagine my feelings to discover he was the canon at "Pike's Peak" (Grace Cathedral) and his older daughter was the psychiatrist on Bishop Pike's committee to investigate speaking in tongues.
The sequel came when the canon's wife had lunch with the Rev Massey Shepherd, Esther Pike, and other friends. They were joking about speaking in tongues and labeling it mass hynosis. The canon's wife interjected something like, "If my daughter discovers that mass hynosis is how God does it I won't mind. I just want to say that it has been wonderful." You can imagine the jaw-dropping that little bomb brought. I could almost hear God laughing.
And then the Bishop Pike - tongues controversy made headlines and somehow or other I was involved. If I had known then that I would one day appear on the front page of the San Francisco newspapers in a theological battle with the Rt Rev James Pike, I wonder if I would have gone to that first prayer meeting.
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AOTGA - Act 5
Meanwhile, the situation in Los Angeles was difficult. But despite the difficulties God didn't give up. Paul Castle heard that the Rev. Gordon S, an Episcopal priest in central Californial, had publicly stated he had been baptized in the Spirit. We invited him to a meeting. He came early but before the group gathered we talked. It became clear to me that he really had not had the experience we were discussing. It is hard to imagine myself saying what I did. I said, "Father, you have received so much that I'm sure God wants to give you this gift as well. If you will kneel down, Father Sherwood and I will lay hands on you and pray." Father Sherwood was astonished -- as was I -- to hear myself making such a statement. Later the priest told me he was furious and decided that whatever happened, nothing was going to make him open his mouth and speak. Father Sherwood and I prayed with him and he began to speak in tongues so loudly that we had to close the windows!
Gordon was originally from Canada. He wrote to a friend about his experience. The result was that several people came from Canada for the sole purpose of receiving the gift of the Spirit. And did. However, his brother, an Anglican monk, came for another purpose. He came to expose us. God filled hthe monk with the Holy Spirit, and renewal began in a cathedral in Canada.
More priests became empowered by the Holy Spirit in Gordon's diocese. At a Diocesan Convention the Rev. Robert Harvey couldn't stand hearing them talk about it any longer without getting into the action, and asked Gordon to take him to a prayer meeting. Another older priest came with them. We had our regular Wednesday morning prayer meeting, during which one priest celebrated the Eurcharist. I looked at Father Harvey and he had that look on his face. In the middle of the Communion service, I asked him if he would like to receive the Holy Spirit. He said he would. Paul Castle and several priests prayed for him, and immediately he received the most fabulous language of worship and praise.
The older priest who had come with them hadn't really been interested, but when he saw this wonderful thing happen to Bob Harvey, whom he considered a first-rate Christian, he also wanted the gift. When Paul explained it to him, however, he changed his mind. Finally he decided that he would speak Greek (the other priests were in another room praying by this time) and we would think he was speaking in tongues and let him alone and he wouldn't hurt our feelings. He began to speak in Greek. I don't know Greek, but God showed me it wasn't from Him. I said, "You know that language, don't you?" He gave me a funny look and left. Later we heard that he was afraid that he had offended God, since it was obvious God hadn't allowed us to be fooled. He realized then that it wasn't fun and games but very real. He begged God's forgiveness, and on the way home God filled him with the Holy Spirit.
A Lutheran pastor telephoned me; he wished to discuss the outpouring of the Spirit. He was happy about what had happened to us. But for himself, he didn't choose to speak in tongues. He was sure that he had the gift of the Spirit without that. We couldn't settle the thing between us and our discussions were becoming tense. Finally I told God that I couldn't get anywhere with him and that if the pastor telephoned again God was going to have to tell me what to say. He did. The next time the pastor invited me over to talk I was ready. When we got onto the sticky subject, "Do you have to speak in tongues to be filled with the Holy Spirit?" I said, "You look like a man filled with the Spirit. Let's make a test. You receive a spiritual language today and use it with an open mind in your private prayers for six months. At the end of that time if you tell me you were baptized with the Spirit before you spoke in tongues, I promise you I will never again tell anyone speaking in tongues is a necessary accompaniment." He replied, "That's fair enough." We prayed. He spoke in tongues and said, "Is that what it is? I've been doing that ever since I was in college."
It appeared to me that one woman spent most of her time causing me trouble. It was she who had begun the controversy when Father G received the Spirit and now she discovered the Lutheran pastor had a prayer language and problems were beginning again. I told God I had had enough -- that since I had received the Holy Spirit most of my days were spent in the wilderness and even Christ Himself had only forty days there. I told Him I would go to church and pray but I was through telling anyone about the Holy Spirit.
The telephone rang. It was the Lutheran pastor. He said, "Jean, the first person in my church is ready to receive the gift of the Spirit if you will come and pray with her." It was as though God were saying, "Well, Jean, what are you going to do now?" I stubbornly said, "I won't be able to. I'm too busy." The pastor ignored me and continued speaking as if he hadn't been interrupted. "Her name is Mrs. Pentecost--" It was just as though God were laughing at me. What a delightful sense of humor He must have. There was nothing for me to do but chuckle and make an appointment to go and pray with Mrs. Pentecost.
Our Wednesday mornign prayer group was small, we were close, and it was wonderful. We prayed, read the Bible, talked and had lunch together. The prayer was effective -- almost shockingly so. Sometimes our intercessions would be granted instantly. It was very exciting and the companionship was comforting and stimulating. Many people were both physically and mentally healed due to the prayer from that small group. Years later I found the same kind of warmth and love in a meeting we began in Hong Kong. The group in Hong Kong is now about fifteen groups and many people have seen their lives rejuvenated because of the prayers of the participants.
But back to 1961. One day I was washing the dishes and the thought came to me, "We need a tract telling about the power of the Holy Spirit." It was almost as though a little voice inside me said, "Write it."
"Yes," I thought, "That's a good idea. On Wednesday I'll ask everyone what they think about it. If they like the idea we can choose a subject, find a writer for the tract, and raise some money to print it." The small soundless voice said, "You write it." I was aware of the fact that I wasn't capable of writing anything, but I sat down to the typewriter and wrote a tract entitled, "Have Ye Received the Holy Ghost Since Ye Believed?" which, incidentally, sold hundreds of thousands of copies. When it was written, the same feeling came that I should take it to a printer. It didn't make any sense to me, since I didn't have any money, but when it was time to pick up the tracts from the printer I had the $45 needed.
The two thousand copies vanished like ice cream in the sunshine. Everyone wanted one. When they were all gone, the nudge came that I should write another. When this one was written, I thought five thousand of each should be printed. The bill would be $145. It seemed like a fortune. When it came time for delivery, I was still short $55. I prayed about it and it was as though God said, "Call Joan Baker." I told God I wasn't going to do that -- that Joan didn't have any money, either. And besides that it was a toll call. Something happened to me then that has never happened before or since. It was as though the presence of God was withdrawn for that brief moment, and it frightened me. I said, "I'll call her." But I added, "However, I'm not going to mention the money." I telephoned Joan and we chatted while the message units ticked up. Finally Joan said, "By the way, my sister, Libby, says she has $40 tithe money for your tract if you want it --"
I reminded the Lord I was still short $15. "Call Paul Castle." No argument this time. We talked. He asked how the tracts were coming along. I told him they were finished, but we didn't have enough money. He told me to wait a minute while he looked in the tithe envelope. He came back to the telephone and said there was $10 in it to use for the tracts. I said, "Wonderful, now we only need $5." Dead silence. Then he spoke in a disgusted tone, "I had $5 I knew I was supposed to give you last Wednesday for the printing, but I wanted to keep it. It's in my billfold."
Our next mad venture was a booklet. This one cost $450 to print -- and our resources were as thin as they had been in the beginning. I was in Montana holding two preaching missions in Episcopal churches to tell them about the Holy Spirit, when a letter came from the treasurer of our new society. She wrote that the bill had come for the printing and there were only $50 in the treasury. I got down on my knees and said, "Lord, it's Your business. I know You'll take care of it." I went down to breakfast, and the priest in whose house I was staying looked up with a puzzled expression and said, "Jean, the Lord said to give you $400. I don't know what for." I knew what for!
And then the day came when I knew we were to publish a magazine. Three of us knew what it looked like and that the name was to be Trinity, but one woman said that when she prayed she "saw" funny little "chicken tracks" that were at the top of the cover and that she had drawn them to show us. Paul took one look at them and shouted, "But that's Greek! 'Logos'. It means Word." And so was conceived a magazine that cost five thousand dollars an issue, caused me much grief, circled the globe, brough so many people to Christ we could never count them, and literally saved at least one woman's life.
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AOTGA - Act 6
"Speaking in tongues is no longer a phenomenon of some odd sect across the street. It is in our midst and it is being practiced by clergy and laity who have stature and good reputation in the church" (The Living Church)
In January, 1963, I spoke in one of the largest Episcopal churches in Texas and the next day attended a luncheon in my honor with the clergy of the diocese. At the conclusion of my first talk there was a reception, and a number of people filed by and shook my hand. Some of them made such queries as, "But how does one receive the gift?" To these I whispered, "I'll meet you in the chapel later and we'll talk about it." The word must have spread, because by the time I was free to go to the chapel it was crowded with people. Before the evening was over a number of them had committed themselves to Christ and many had been filled with the Holy Spirit.
However, the rector's wife did not comprehend the significance or the importance of the gift. When I returned to the rectory that evening, she was waiting to ask questions. I tried to explain carefully the difference between praying in tongues as a spiritual dimension open to all Christians, and the public manifestation of tongues, commonly called the gift of tongues, which is accompanies by the gift of interpretation. She was polite and was making an obvious effort to remain so, but she appeared baffled and passively belligerent.
The next morning when I arrived in the dining room for breakfast, she drew me aside and asked, "Is this speaking in tongues?" and proceeded to speak in a language from the Holy Spirit. I assured her it was and inquired how it had come about. She said she dreamed she told God, "I'll stop fighting and do it Your way," and woke up speaking in tongues.
The Rev William Sherwood, a retired Episcopal priest from Florida, decided that I should attend a Christian conference that was being held, talked me into it, and paid my expenses there. The leaders were against any public display of speaking in tongues and were very nervous about me. I found this difficult to understand, as I had never publicly spoken in tongues at any group where gifts of the Spirit were not welcome. I considered myself very quiet and conservative. (I still do, but a lot of other people don't!)
So I couldn't understand the trepidation of the leaders at my being at the conference. I still think I wasn't the one they should have worried about. Sure enough, at the very first morning meeting someone brought a message in tongues, and Joan Baker interpreted. One of the organizers furiously kicked over his chair, shouted something to the effect that he didn't believe it, and left the hall in a huff. People began inquiring what it was and what it meant. On about th esecond or third day, I became brave enough to put on my name tag. From then on I was mobbed. The Rev Tod Ewald, a charmingly enthusiastic extrovert, led me into the garden and said, "If I receive this gift I want to know what to expect. Tell me everything that can go wrong." For an hour I proceeded to tell him of the mistakes peculiar to Episcopalians. Later, when I returned to my room for a rest, I found it so full of people that they were even sitting on the floor. Father Ewald was one of those on the floor. One of my friends said, "They wanted to hear about the baptism in the Spirit, so we brought them to your room and they've been waiting for you."
I told them the story of how the Spirit had come to us at St Mark's, the purpose of His coming, and the wonderful life His coming opens up for the individual. When I asked in anyone wished to receive, Father Ewald put up his hand and was the first one prayed for. I placed my hands lightly upon his head and asked God to fill him with the Holy Spirit. He began to speak in tongues and to laugh. It was the most infectious and the most joyous laughter I had ever heard. I have since discovered that the Pentecostals refer to it as "holy laughter." Whatever it is called, it filled the room with joy, and I think everyone there wanted the gift of the Spirit for himself. It seems to me that they all received. Then one of my friends tapped me on the arm and said, "There's another roomful next door waiting for you." And so the conference continued. However, I still say that I am the conservative one. It's those other people who stir things up.
Tod became a bomb. He had been baptized in the Spirit in October or November. He usually threw a Christmas party for the parish that cost him $500 in booze and was the talk of the town. As the time drew near someone asked him, "What about our party this year?" He said, "We're different now. We don't do things like that anymore." He was so different that the entire diocese was amazed. Where he had previously been a very spiky Anglo-Catholic, suddenly Baptists, Presbyterians and others were attending his church and he even had altar calls. Don't get the idea his churchmanship changed. This was one of the extraordinary things about him. After I had attended church there one time with all of the attendant "bells and smells," Tod asked me how I liked the service. I hedged, "Could you get any more high church?" He quickly retorted, "You tell me how and I'll do it!"
About this time Bishop Pike was becoming nervouse about speaking in tongues. He was quoted as saying that he didn't mind the speaking in tongues so much, but the people who spoke in tongues were always talking about Jesus, and he was sick and tired of it. Tod decided he had to do something about this; so he made an appointment for another minister, Tod, and myself to see the bishop for fifteen minutes.
The fifteen minute appointment was a fantastic experience that I shall never forget. The three of us arrived and were cordially greeted by the bishop, who was his usual charming self. Immediately the minister of the other denomination began telling the bishop how, when he was baptized with the Spirit, a light had followed him around the garden. Actually, this was probably a true story and most fascinating. He was in his church garden praying and a man looking down from a window saw the light going behind him, went down to find out what it was all about, and became a Christian. However, all that was coming through in the telling was that if you were baptized in the Holy Spirit, a light followed you around the garden. At that time, about the last thing the bishop wanted was a light following him around the garden. Later events indicate he may have changed his mind.
Father Ewald could see that this wasn't the right tack to take with the bishop, and he sort of rocked back and forth praying, "Jesus. Jesus. Jesus." Bishop Pike appeared to be viewing him with a rather jaundiced eye. Tod didn't like the way things were going, so he finally broke in on the other minister's discourse with, "What it's all about is that it makes Jesus more real." At that stage in his life, Bishop Pike didn't appear to desire Jesus to be more real either. I could see that things weren't going too well and the time was nearly up, so I interjected my penny's worth. I pointed out that the bishop was interested in ecumenicity, and that this experience brought just that. He brightened up and admitted that he had been amazed and pleased at the many denominations represented regularly at Tod's church. My second point was that he was concerned with social reform and that after people were baptized in the Spirit they had a much more sensitive conscience and were more interested in helping others. Our fifteen minutes were up.
During our talk the bishop had two cigarettes going at the same time and had set the rug on fire. While he was stamping out the fire, he set his pants afire and began beating on them. When we left he prayed that many would be filled with the Spirit through our ministry and gave us each an autographed copy of his new book, Beyond Anxiety. It seems ironic.
Tod had a habit of speaking softly in tongues while he puttered around the altar during a church service. One day Bishop Pike was at his church for a confirmation service and became very angry at Tod for doing this. At the time the bishop had such a bad cold that he described it to a friend as "walking pneumonia." Tod instigated public prayer for him at church. After the confirmation service, Tod, knowing that many of the people in the church were not genuinely committed to Christ, suggested that those who would like to "renew" their vows to follow Christ made at their confirmation come to the altar for a rededication. The bishop obligingly laid hands on the many who flocked forward. But when some of them quietly spoke in tongues, the bishop was infuriated. However, a friend of his told me later that he had confided in her, "But they really do have something. They prayed for my cold and I was healed."
I am told the active opposition from Bishop Pike began when a priest from another diocese spoke at Stanford University (with the bishop's permission) anda number of Stanford students entered into this dimension of the Spirit. An assistant bishop to Bishop Pike is purported to have been very angry, complained bitterly and requested the bishop to put an immediate halt to glossolalia in the diocese of northern California. (This was not our diocese but we were already having troubles of our own.) So Bishop Pike had a letter from himself read in all parishes in his diocese, slowing speaking in tongues down to a walk -- and a private walk at that.
However, in some instances the injunction backfired. After hearing the bishop's letter read in church, the wife of one glossolaling priest, who had been violently opposed to her husband's experience, said to him, "You win. I believe now that it's God. How do I get it?" Her reaction was not uncommon. A group of Disciples of Christ telephoned me long distance. Their spokesman told me that for years they had been interested in the baptism in the Spirit but could not determine if it was genuinely of God. However, since Bishop Pike was against it, they had decided it was from God and wanted to know when I would next be speaking in their area. Shortly thereafter I was lecturing in the Episcopal church at Ridgecrest, and they came and received the gift.
About the time of Bishop Pike's pronouncement, I was scheduled to speak in a large Assemblies of God (the largest denomination of the Pentecostal churches) Church in San Francisco. Either the reporters saw the advertising and telephoned the church, or the pastor called the newspapers; I am not sure which. However, the reporters of both papers had a field day. For well over a week the San Francisco Chronicle carried banner headlines, such as: "UPROAR OVER TONGUES -- THE CHURCH QUARREL." The San Francisco Examiner was not far behind. One paper had dug up a picture of the bishop frowning and ran a picture of me smiling beside it. "Fighting the trend" was the caption under the picture of the bishop, and under mine it read, "Spreading the word."
My engagement at the church ended with a dinner. A fundamentalist who ran a Christian radio station in the area introduced me. He had previously been against speaking in tongues, so it was quite a coup for the church to have him there at all, let alone to have him introduce their speaker. His introduction was to the effect that over the years he had seen Bishop Pike categorically deny the basic elements of the Christian faith, and now that the bishop was stating he was stamping out glossolalia because it was "heresy in embryo," he could not accept either the bishop's evaluation or his sincerity.
A Pentecostal minister told me that about that time he was visiting a parishioner in the hospital in the hospital. After praying with the parishioner, he talked with her roommate. In the course of their talk the elderly lady came to an awareness of Jesus Christ, and then and there she prayed a prayer of commitment to Him. Afterward she said longingly, "I wish someone would tell my son about Jesus; I don't think he knows Him either." Her son was Bishop Pike.
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AOTGA - Act 6 Cont'd
Les Crne wanted me to be on the "Hungry i" talk show and debate with Bishop Pike on television. I refused. It does not seem to me that the Good News is something to argue about. However, Les persuaded me to be on the show one day and the bishop to be on another day. I chose the second day. The bishop was out of town and sent a substitute who was also a bishop. I didn't see the show, but it was probably the assistant who had been so much opposed. The day I was on the show, some very peculiar people telephoned in. I remember one was what is called "Jesus Only" Pentecostal. She tried to get me to say no one was going to Heaven unless he spoke in tongues. I consider this a grave heresy. The entire show was a frustrating experience because so many people talked so much about silly things that there was little opportunity for sound discussion. Of course Les was smooth and would cut them off eventually. Years later, after Les had gone to a bigger show in New York, someone mentioned glossolalia to him. His reply was, "That Jean Stone has something real." This made me feel better about the whole thing.
Paul Coates did an interview show, filmed in Los Angeles that was also shown in the Bay Area. While I was speaking in San Francisco, someone from his staff telephoned me long distance to ask me to allow Paul Coates to interview me. I didn't like the publicity and any sane person would have been afraid of Paul, who can be quite ruthless; but I had always told God that I would go wherever anyone wanted me to talk about Him if it were feasible. I agreed to go, but when I was asked if I would speak in tongues on the show I said, "Certainly not," and hung up. After I hung up it was as though that small silent voice said, "Would you pray in English?" I mentally agreed that I would, and it was as though the voice said, "Are you ashamed of the language I've given you?" I was cut to the heart and decided that if they asked me again I would pray in tongues on the show -- but I was scared.
Back in Los Angeles, as the time approached to appear on the Coates show, a minister from out of town was visiting the area. I asked him if he would like to be on the Paul Coates show with me. He had no aversion to publicity and was delighted. When I suggested he might do the praying in tongues he was pleased as punch. The show went over very well, so well that the religion editor of the Redwood City Tribune received the baptism in the Spirit watching the show. The next day she went to the editor of the newspaper and said, "Perhaps you want to fire me: I speak in tongues."
"Fire you! That's news! Write it up."
Her tale of being baptized with the Spirit while watching the Paul Coates Show was put on the front page of the Redwood City Tribune. The Palo Alto Standard was so taken with it that the article was reprinted in it the next Sunday. The minister could not get over my unselfishness in allowing him to share the spotlight. Little did he know how relieved I was to be able to share it.
The next time I was invited to guest on the Paul Coates Show, they wanted me alone. I was terrified but I went. I explained what glossolalia was, how it had come to us at Van Nuys, and prayed briefly in tongues. A number of years later, after a service at Trinity Chapel, a man came up to me, shook my hand and said, "I'm happy to meet an Episcopalian. It was an Episcopalian woman who kept my wife from going to hell." He went on to say that he had been a Pentecostal for twenty years, but that his wife had been violently opposed to Christianity and had been militant about it. She contracted cancer and was in the latter stages, but her attitude toward God was more violent than ever. One night he came home from a church service, and his wife told him she felt different about everything. She said she had watched the Paul Coates Show, and Paul had interviewed an Episcopalian woman who had explained Christianity and speaking in tongues so she could understand it. In fact, the woman had even spoken in tongues on television. The wife said when the program ended she prayed and asked Christ to take over her life, and now she loved Him and always would. The husband brought his pastor to see her and she received the baptism in the Spirit. When she went to be with God, it was in peace and joy.
During that period we were on the television news two or three times. One evening one of the major news broadcasters came to the house to film our Monday night prayer meeting. It was to appear on the eleven o'clock news that evening. There were approximately seventy-five people present. After the photographer was finished he said he was sorry that no one had spoken in tongues as they had wanted to film it. I told him that if someone merely prayed in tongues they would be speaking to God and there would probably be no interpretation. But if the Spirit prompted someone to speak, then it would be God speaking to the group and interpretation would follow. He was very disappointed. I went back, sat down on the sofa and told the group what he had said. I suggested we wait a little while to ascertain if the Holy Spirit wished to manifest any of the gifts. A well-dressed young man sitting on the hearth (the chairs were filled) said, "Me," and pointed to himself. I asked, "What?" He said, "Ever since I came in the door I knew I should speak in tongues, but I thought perhaps you didn't want anyone to do so until they were through filming." They trained the cameras on him, he spoke in tongues, Father Harvey interpreted, and the newsmen went home. I offered the young man (whom I had not previously met) a cup of coffee. He mused, "I wonder what the inmates at the State Hospital will say when they watch the news tonight."
I steadied my hand. I thought, "Bishop Pike has said speaking in tongues is schizophrenic and I have put an out-patient from the mental hospital on television."
As the young man took the coffee from me I casually inquired, "Are you employed at the State Hospital?" He replied, "I'm the psychologist there."
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