Signs, wonders, and the very present Kingdom of God - Part 3 - Pentecostals and Tongues - A Trip Back to The Middle East

Read the whole series - Signs, wonders, and the very present Kingdom of God

About two months before I moved overseas to go into full time ministry (shortly after college) I took a trip back to the Middle East where I had lived during Jr. High School when my father was working for the embassy. My father had left his government job and become a missions pastor back in the states at a Vineyard church. There a team was put together and I helped lead a group of about six people to Amman for a month.

Now the connections my father had made while we lived in Amman were with a Nazarene Church and with a Pentecostal Church, so our visits to both were quite different. The Nazarene Church was putting on a training which I would tell you about, but has potential to get a lot of people in trouble should the wrong person hear about it. Suffice it to say we were meeting some men and women who were going to have a great impact on some pretty difficult places.

At this training I heard a man from Egypt preach from the Bible (as opposed to notes) for almost eight hours per day for a whole week. This man knew the Bible like the back of his hand and in talking about one section it would remind him of another, he would then turn and flip back and forth and back and forth to find more and more places to argue his point. I was blown away by this and have desired ever since then to have that good of a grasp of the one book I have no excuse to not know. Later I've realized I lack all ability to remember numbers and names, so I can remember a story and about where it is in the Bible, but have no idea what chapter or verse it's in.

Anyhow, all this is leading up to the Pentecostal Church. Before we left my father felt like he had heard from the Lord that we were supposed to go and pray our brains out for these people to receive the gift of tongues. I remember him saying, "This is weird to me because I so disagree with their theology about tongues, but I feel its what the Lord wants us to do, so lets do it." We then sat down with our team and there were two people who did not already pray in tongues so we prayed for them to receive the gift.

Then in Amman a number of weeks later we put on a camp for this Pentecostal Church. We were in charge of the whole program, music, exercise, games, worship, teaching etc... It was a great time and the Lord really seemed to work throughout the whole camp. On the last night I finally felt like I was beginning to grasp some of what these folks believed (before this I really didn't understand Pentecostalism). And I'll say for the record that I see absolutely no Biblical evidence for a second baptism of the Holy Spirit. From what I can tell as soon as we become believers we receive the Holy Spirit in its fullness and the gifts may come immediately, later, or never. But we have the potential from that moment on for all of them.

Anyhow, the last night we promised the kids they could stay up as long as they wanted, all night even and we would just hang out and play games. But first we had a teaching and then an extended period of worship. The Lord showed up, and big time. Then someone suggested that this was the time and we started to pray for everyone who had not received the gift of tongues to do so. That night a huge number of people did receive the gift, and I remember one young man who also accepted Christ as his savior that night. It was very obvious the Lord was at work. He was there and He was blessing this work, and though I absolutely disagree with the theology surrounding it, I saw him do great things.

I also remember one young kid who had only been a believer for about a few years. He was younger than the rest of the kids (I think you had to be 14 to come and he was 11) but came along anyhow because his parents were involved as lay people in the church and helped to organize some things. He received the gift of tongues that night too, and almost immediately afterwards he ran over to tell his parents as he was full of excitement. He then came back to me and told me his parents had told him he was too young to receive a second baptism, and that he hadn't been a Christian long enough to have this happen. I was heartbroken for the kid.

All of this is to simply give another situation where I saw the Lord at work in the gifts. It was obvious He was there, and while I disagree with the theology I cannot argue with what He was doing. I also saw both good and bad come from a willingness to follow the Lords call and then man's weirdness.

Thankfully God is bigger than these people and situations. More than anything this situation began my understanding of how the Lord seem to use many different denominations even though we are convinced they're confused about something.