June 16, 1979, it was a beautiful day. I had traveled with my mom and oldest brother Tom to
Fairfield, California for my sister Karen’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony, and I was happy for Karen and Mike. After the wedding and reception were over, we were invited to go to a church service in a city about 40 minutes away from where my sister lived. They told us it was going to be a “Singspiration.” We weren’t familiar with the term, so my sister’s church friends explained to us that it would be different musicians and singing groups coming together to sing and worship the Lord. We said that we would go.
When we arrived, the singing and worship was already in progress. I slipped into a pew and just sat and observed what was going on around me. The singing sounded wonderful to me, and I saw people standing with their hands raised in the air, some people with tears running down their faces, and many just singing with great exuberance. I remember thinking, “These people really have something. I don’t know what it is, but I know I don’t have what they have.” The singing went on for a while, and it was all very good. Finally, a man came to the pulpit and said they were going to take prayer requests.
Lydia, the woman from Karen’s church that brought us with her slipped up her hand. “These people have come here all the way from
Chicago, and I don’t want to see them go back without receiving the Holy Ghost.” Something broke inside me when she said it, for long before I even stepped foot in this church, God had been working inside my heart. In spite of coming from a loving family, having a job that was good money for a 16 year old and in general, trying to be a good person, I had been feeling such an aching emptiness inside me. Tears started rolling down my face, and before I knew what was really happening, a group of people had gathered around and were praying for me. I didn’t even really know how to pray. I didn’t know what words to say. I just remember closing my eyes, crying a lot and asking God over and over again to help me. I was going through the process of repentance, although I didn’t fully understand it at the time. After a while, someone told me to tell Jesus that I loved Him. So, I started telling Him that I loved Him, even though it felt awkward for me. I had never prayed like this in my life. I had been taught that prayer was supposed to be kind of a quiet thing. Anyhow, after pouring my heart out to God for a while, I did feel better. Some folks from the church talked to my mom, brother and I about baptism. They showed us Scriptures in the book of Acts, where people were actually baptized. I saw in the Bible that people were baptized in Jesus’ name and that baptism was for the remission (washing away) of our sins. I had been baptized as an infant, but of course, I didn’t know what I was doing then. I really felt that I needed to get baptized in Jesus’ name and be obedient to God’s Word.
We headed back to my sister’s church in
Fairfield where someone had called the pastor to let him know that there were 3 people that wanted to be baptized. First Mom was baptized and then Tom. They both looked very happy. When they prayed at the church in El Sobrante, both of them had received the Holy Ghost and spoken in other tongues. I knew a little bit about the Holy Ghost, because my sister had showed me Scriptures about it in the book of Acts. I had not received it yet, but I felt like I would like to have it. While I was in the baptistery, Pastor Cates began to talk to me about the Holy Ghost. He told me that it was for me, and that I needed to believe that God was going to give it to me. He instructed me to lift my hands and begin to worship the Lord. As I lifted my hands and began praising the Lord, I began to feel something that I had never felt in my life. The only way I can describe it is to say that I felt this very intense love that started at the top of my head and began to work its way down my body. It was so wonderful that I couldn’t help but cry, and then I began to speak words that I couldn’t understand. I was so overjoyed that I started jumping up and down in the baptistery. I knew that God had filled me with the Holy Ghost! I lost all track of time and everyone around me. It was just Jesus and me! Later, after I was finally baptized, I was told that I had been in the baptismal for 45 minutes. I had no idea, because I was just so engulfed in God’s presence. The Bible states in the book of 2 Corinthians,
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
After I was baptized and received the Holy Ghost, I really did feel like a new person. Many things began to change. Even though I was only 16, I had a bad habit of cussing like a sailor. God took that away, and I’ve never struggled with it since that time. God gave me the strength to break off a relationship I had with a young man that was taking me down the wrong road. The Lord just made so many wonderful changes in my life. He has blessed me with a fantastic husband and 2 beautiful children. It’s hard to believe it will be 30 years as of June 2009. Living for Jesus has not always been a bed of roses, but He has been with me through thick and thin. He truly is the best thing that ever happened to me!