I had an unforgettable experience during a mission trip to Thailand in June 2016. During a visit to a tribal village, the children were singing a Christian song in their own language. I didn’t understand a word, but I felt the Spirit touching me through the song. As emotions welled up within me, I knew I was holding back a torrent from flowing out.
My fear of what the other team members would think of me finally gave out and I wept bitterly. Waves of energy spread through my body and my hands and feet were immobilised like stone. My fingers were curled up and according to my brother, he couldn’t pry it open. I’m not sure how long it continued for but I could still hear the singing in the background.
For some time since the trip, I didn’t know what to make of the experience. I didn’t know it was a baptism of the Holy Spirit until I read Charles Finney’s account.
29-year-old Finney was a lawyer but felt unsure of his salvation. He took a walk in the woods near his home and after some time of searching prayers, went to his office. Unexpectedly, he experienced what he later realised to be a baptism of the Holy Spirit as recorded in his memoir:
“But as I turned and was about to take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost. Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my mind that there was any such thing for me, without my recollection that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world, the Holy Ghost descended on me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God. I can recollect distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.
No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. The waves came over me, and over me, one after the other, until I recollect I cried out, “I shall die if these waves continue to pass over me.” I said, “Lord, I cannot bear any more”; yet I had no fear of death.
How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to roll over me and go through me, I do not know.”
After this experience, Finney rejected his law career and secular success. He lost his desire for worldly pleasures and amusements and was only concerned with preaching the Gospel to save souls. This baptism of the Holy Spirit was not a one time event but occurred throughout his life though not regularly.
I see many parallels between Finney’s and my experience. I hope that the spiritual after effects continue. I still have a long way to go in removing my sinful habits and motives. But the Lord helping me, I shall be a clean vessel to be used by Him.