Baptism by . . . Phone?
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“Leroy has taken a very personal approach to the task,” Schneckloth says, “contacting our applicants and pastoring them through the process.”
“I prefer to sit down with candidates in person and go through a Bible study with them concerning the significance and role of the Holy Spirit,” Wyre says, “but that can’t always be the case.”
Recently, Wyre has had a series of phone conversation with candidates where the Holy Spirit was not only present, but made His presence known.
Josh is in his mid-20s and, through a series of events, knows that God has called him into the ministry.
During that phone conversation, Josh responded to Wyre’s questions concerning his salvation and how he was called into the ministry. He also told Wyre that he was not baptized in the Holy Spirit, which is required to become an Assemblies of God minister.
Wyre took Josh through Scripture, including a study of Luke 11:9-13, which tells of seeking and finding as well as how God gives the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask.
Earlier Josh had admitted to having a stuttering problem, one that was so severe he was often the target of bullies at school. God revealed to Wyre that even though Josh had not stuttered during their entire conversation, it was that fear of being ridiculed that was holding him back. Josh agreed and Wyre prayed a short prayer with him.
“All of a sudden he took off like a chainsaw, speaking in tongues,” Wyre reports. “I sat listening to him for several minutes and then I just said, ‘Ok. I’m going to give you some time with God, praying in this new language. Call me when you can.’”
“My prayer with God continued in the gifted language of tongues . . . my life had changed right then and there,” he says. “I was given a gift like nothing I had ever experienced.
About 15 minutes later, Josh called Wyre, excited about what had just taken place -- through a phone call.
Josh recently gave an update: “I feel like I am able to almost speak more comfortably with God, especially in my prayer life,” Josh says. “I have become completely at ease with what may happen if I pray with and for my patients and their families openly.”
TRUCK DRIVER CHUCK
“Intellectual and analytical” are two words Wyre used to describe Chuck, a 50-something truck driver who has been contemplating a call to ministry for several years, but jumped in with both feet when his church, that was without a pastor, could possibly close.
Wyre examined and explained the first portion of Luke 11 and Acts 2 with Chuck. It became clear to Wyre that Chuck was looking for what others had experienced to be duplicated in his life.
“You want fireworks and lightning to happen — where God takes over you and where it’s undeniable . . ., but it’s a different experience for everyone,” Wyre said. “Some people start fluently talking in an unknown language, some make utterances, for some, it’s like learning a language one word, sentence, or paragraph at a time — God does it different ways for different people.”
After praying with Chuck, nothing remarkable seemed to happen. However, three weeks later, Chuck called back — he had been considering what Wyre had said.
“He told me that when he asked for the Spirit baptism, two words kept coming to his mind, but he didn’t know what they meant — was it ‘tongues?’” Wyre says. “I laughed and told him in my 30 years as a minister I never heard anyone speak in tongues identically and that this was wonderful — he should keep praying in the Spirit and allow God to continue to develop his prayer language.”
Chuck says that since that time, through seeking the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, his prayer language had continued to grow.
He also notes that since being Spirit baptized, the Holy Spirit has blessed his life with peace, assurance, and trust.
“I have not felt this kind of peace in my life. It is great!” he says. “The assurance that I feel knowing that God is in control, and the trust that I have knowing that God wants the best for me and those that trust in Him, that He will always be there.”
THEN CAME JAXSON
When Wyre connected with the college-aged Jaxson by phone at his home about 10 days ago, it wasn’t long before he realized Jaxson had a real heart for ministry. However, neither he nor his friends had a biblical understanding of the Holy Spirit and His baptism — despite having grown up in the church.
“He told me that he had prayed for more than two hours after an event to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but he still had not received the Baptism with evidence of speaking in tongues,” Wyre says.
Jaxson admitted frustration and to questioning himself – he was angry. Was he not mature enough, worthy enough, perfect enough?
As with the others, Wyre led Jaxson through a brief study of Acts 2 and Luke 11, making it a point for Jaxson to observe those around him who had already experienced the Baptism were not sinless. Wyre also learned that Jaxson believed the baptism in the Holy Spirit just kind of “happened” during worship — he had never simply asked (as described in Luke 11) for it.
A short prayer later, the Holy Spirit responded to Jaxson’s request, and he found himself speaking in tongues.
“He had so much joy!” Wyre says. “The presence of God was in my room and in his room. He told me, ‘I can’t believe this! Out of all the church events and worship sessions I’ve been to . . ., instead I’m sitting here in my room in my sweats and God baptizes me in the Holy Spirit!’”
ROOM FOR MORE
Although Wyre is excited about how the Holy Spirit has been working in lives, he also urges churches to get serious about teaching what the baptism in the Holy Spirit is all about – in church, small groups, and Sunday School — as His power is what sets the Pentecostal movement apart.
He points to when he shared Josh’s testimony at his church, a 13-year-old boy, by just hearing the testimony, was baptized in the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues.
Wyre reminds Christians that the purpose of Spirit baptism is to have a closer relationship with Jesus and be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“I encourage pastors to not only teach on the Holy Spirit, but to create an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to encounter people in our churches,” he says. “He is as viable today as He was in Acts chapter 2.”