A Life-Changing Midnight Stroll
Assemblies of God evangelist Bill I. Juoni experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit in a life-changing way in 1973 while a junior at Northern Michigan University (NMU) in Marquette.
Finishing his studies one evening when the school library closed at midnight, he meandered back to his dormitory, a 10-minute stroll he had taken often. He recalls praying audibly, Lord, I want all that You have promised and to baptize me in the Holy Spirit.
Within a short time, he started to speak in another prayer language.
“No lightning bolt hit me or special feeling,” Juoni says. Still, he knew the Baptism was real and wonderful. Instead of deep diagnosing what had happened, he calmly chose to go to sleep. It had been a long, tiring day.
Feelings mislead, Juoni observes. The true marker when someone receives the baptism in the Holy Spirit is the evidence of speaking in tongues, he stresses. Emotional highs such as shaking, falling down, or rivers of tears, do not attend every experience.
His ministry in the past 24 years has been devoted to understanding the biblical support of spiritual gifts and encouraging the Spirit-filled life. He affirms Acts 1:8 wholeheartedly: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.
Juoni started a business career after graduating from NMU in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science in marketing. He joined a retail chain’s management training program and married Beth Ann Murray in 1975. Working in retail jobs in a pair of locations, he served in almost every volunteer position except nursery duty and girls ministries at Stevens Point Assembly of God (now Highland Church) in Wisconsin and New Life Assembly of God in Escanaba, Michigan.
He then sensed a call to full-time ministry. In 1978, Juoni earned a bachelor’s degree in pastoral studies from North Central University in Minneapolis. After pastoring eight years at New York Mills Assembly of God in Minnesota and 12 years at Whitewater Family Church in Wisconsin, Bill and Beth became appointed AG evangelists.
He launched his evangelistic platform, Fresh Fire Ministries, in 1998, taking a low-key approach by sending letters to churches in the AG Wisconsin/Northern Michigan Ministries Network from his home in Whitewater. Pastors responded positively via phone calls, emails, and returned response cards, inviting him to preach on the Holy Spirit.
As traveling evangelists, Bill, 70, and Beth, 66, conduct about 75 services annually, mainly in AG churches. Following preaching, Bill invites congregants to the altar to seek the Baptism. Beth prays and provides background music on the keyboard.
While Juoni observes a current trend to more seeker-friendly preaching, he also sees more Christians hungry and open to the Holy Spirit.
“I find no difference among people or regions, whether they are young, middle age, seniors, teenagers, or multiethnic,” he says. “Wherever the Holy Spirit is preached and proclaimed, there is a hunger.”
Bob Dell, a member of Nashville Assembly of God in Michigan, received the baptism in the Holy Spirit in 2016 during one of Juoni’s meetings.
“When brother Bill laid hands on me at the altar and prayed, I began speaking in tongues,” says Dell, 75.
Since that day, Dell reports he has exercised more power to witness for Jesus to anybody at anytime and anyplace.
Juoni has preached regularly at Trinity Christian Center in Zion, Illinois, for more than a decade.
“At the end of almost every evangelistic meeting, many are filled and refilled with the Holy Spirit,” says lead pastor Tim R. Eddy.
According to Eddy, Juoni lays a strong biblical foundation supporting the purpose of the Baptism for today.
“Bill opens the door for people to grow and begin a new journey with the Holy Spirit,” Eddy says.