John 14:16,17 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.
I’ll never forget that first night I was touched by the Holy Spirit. I was actually attending my very first Bible study. It was in an upstairs apartment over a Pizza Parlor on Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans. I had been invited by some street preachers the week before and found myself in a room full of missionaries headed to Central America. These were the Jesus freak variety of street preachers, full of the Holy Spirit, and obviously unashamed of the power of God. I remember them singing in other languages for an extended period of time, the more they sang the more the room filled with an atmosphere I had never felt before. They seemed to stop singing on cue and an invitation was given, “whoever wants more of Jesus, step into the center of the room”. The simple invitation was given by a gentle giant of a man who seemed to be their leader. I found myself in the middle of the room, overwhelmed with the incredible presence of the Lord. My life was being changed, marked forever by the touch of God.
That was my first encounter with the Holy Spirit, thankfully it wasn’t my last. That first encounter was in the summer of 1973, fast forward to the summer of 1994 and I was now pastoring Victory Fellowship in the New Orleans metro area. Sixteen years of pastoring had taken a toll on my spiritual condition. I had become thirsty and dry and was now struggling, just trying to pastor my church. The problem seems quite obvious in retrospect, I had forgotten the importance of the Holy Spirit. Not only was my church dry, I was dry. I had forgotten how to receive, honestly I was unaware of my need to receive from the Lord. I was considering stepping out of the ministry for the first time in my life. That’s when my second visitation came, I was about to be filled again with the Holy Spirit. Rumors of revival were everywhere that summer, I was at the place where I was open to receive a touch from the Lord.
After overcoming my stubborn resistance to revival in a package I was unfamiliar with, I went to some meetings in Rockwall, Texas. After sitting in services for a week I reluctantly answered an altar call for pastors. The next thing I knew I was caught up in that same presence I had felt in that strange Bible study so many years before. The Holy Spirit fell on me that day and changed everything again. First, I learned how to receive. Next, I fell in love with ministry again. To my surprise, that same presence that fell on me in Texas visited my church that next Sunday. Almost twenty five years have passed since that awakening in my life in 1994. That same presence is in our church today. Honestly, I couldn’t continue another day without Him.