Happy Pentecost! This weekend, millions of Christians all across the globe are celebrating the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the apostolic church. Pentecost has always been very important for me, since the apostolic Pentecost as it is described in Acts 2 combines everything I like: charismatic fire, economic redistribution, universal evangelism as well as simplicity, worship and joy.
It all started when the wonderful Holy Spirit descended with fire and the international gift of tongues:
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? (Acts 2:1-8, NIV)
In my experience, this is quite a common miracle. When the early Pentecostals met at the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles to enjoy the restoration of Spirit baptism, many claimed that people actually started to speak real languages. In the October issue 1906 of The Apostolic Faith, the official publication of the Azusa Street church, the following article is included:
Sister Hutchins has been preaching the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. She has received the baptism with the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Uganda language, the language of the people to whom she is sent. A brother who has been in that country understands and has interpreted the language she speaks. Her husband is with her and her niece, who also has been given the African language.
And in the September issue of the same year, the following is recorded:
A Mohammedan, a Soudanese by birth, a man who is an interpreter and speaks sixteen languages, came into the meetings at Azusa Street and the Lord gave him messages which none but himself could understand. He identified, interpreted and wrote in a number of the languages.
In fact, this phenomena was so common at Azusa Street that when the early Pentecostals prayed for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they expected to speak existung languages. After all, this is what we read in Acts chapter 2. And this miracle has by no means ceased since the time of the Azusa revival. I know of many testimonies about this, but I will limit myself to a few:
My friend Hans Sundberg were doing some evangelism with some friends here in Uppsala, Sweden, around 40 years ago. A man from Iran who believed in Bahai came to them and started to argue why they shouldn’t be Christians but believe in Bahai instead. Hans argued the other way around, and the conversation was pretty much stuck – nobody was able to convince the other.
Hans’ friend Maria was standing nearby praying, and as she prayed louder and louder Hans realized that she was praying in tongues. This made him uncomfortable since Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14 that people will think that we’re crazy if they hear our tongue-speaking (which in my experience is very accurate). But when he looked at the man from Iran, he discovered that he was staring at her, mind-blown.
She was speaking Farsi!
He understood every word, which was about how Jesus is greater than Bahá’u’lláh and wants him to be born again. Hans saw, prophetically, how an arrow went out of Maria’s mouth, into the man’s heart.
I know so many more examples of this – my friend Håkan Gabrielsson sang in an Indian language called Ho at a pastor’s conference, Methodist bishop David Carr have spoken in existing languages multiple times (as can be seen in the video above) and my other friend Surprise Sithole has learned many languages supernaturally.
God is alive, and He is international. His church transcends borders and unites people from all around the world. This is one of the many wonderful messages of Pentecost. Happy holiday!