I want to share with you my deep appreciation and admiration for Oral Roberts.
I graduated from Hewitt-Trussville High School in June of 1950. However, I had attended Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, AL, for three semesters before my parents purchased a small farm east of Birmingham near a small town called Clay. So I was required to transfer to another high school.
God had called me to preach, but I felt I could never do that. I was a stutterer. Oral Roberts came to Birmingham for a Tent Crusade at the Alabama State Fair Grounds. I had never seen a tent like Oral's. It was humongous. My pastor, O. N. Todd, Jr. was the chairman for that crusade and he was instrumental in helping Oral's advance team get a number of pastors and church leaders to support the crusade. I went to hear Oral and one night when he gave his personal testimony of how God healed him of tuberculosis and of stuttering. That night God gave me the faith to believe if God could heal Oral Roberts of a life-threatening disease and of stuttering, He could heal me and enable me to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I desired to be obedient to the call of God.
However, God did not heal me like He did Oral Roberts. It took several years before I met Dr. Sarah Lowry, a speech professor at Furman University. She diagnosed my speech problem. She taught me the Phonetic Alphabet which I had never learned. She helped me with numerous exercises so I could pronounce s,t,and esses (s') on the end of a word, e. g., insists. God has delivered me from stuttering. And now, God has enabled me to pronounce almost any word. That is a special gift God has given me.
Secondly, Oral Roberts helped me to understand how to receive the Baptism with or in the Holy Spirit. I grew up in a preacher's home, and my mother had been a missionary to Hong Kong and Pakhoi China for nine years prior to marrying my father. I have a sister who is almost 3 years older than I. All of them had received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in other tongues. That had never happened to me, although I longed to receive this gift from God the Father and the Son. I would daily hear my mother praying in tongues in her private prayer time and study of the Bible daily as a child and youth in our home.
I went through 5 years of college and three years of seminary and was pastoring my first church and I was not baptized with the Holy Spirit.
In April of 1964, Oral Roberts conducted a tent crusade in Pensacola, Florida. All the pastors in the area were invited to attend and to have breakfast with Oral Roberts one morning. So, Melvine and I drove down to have breakfast with Oral and his staff. George Fisher, Melvine's former pastor before he became a missionary for our denomination was present. He was a right hand of support to Oral.
That morning Oral taught about the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and gave us his book by that title. I learned for the first time that the Holy Spirit gives the utterance or words and it is the responsible of the candidate to speak the words he hears. I had thought the Holy Spirit would take my mouth, lips and tongue and speak for me. I was wrong. The Holy Spirit gives the words in a language you have never learned or heard and you, i. e., I will have to speak those words to complete the process of this glorious experience. I devoured the book and read all the Scriptures. I eagerly and persistently sought to receive this blessing. I really wanted to receive this gift and prayed daily for Jesus to baptize me with the Holy Spirit. I was an eager candidate and ready for Jesus to baptize me with the Holy Spirit.
One Wednesday night after I had taught a Bible lesson to about 25 or 30 adults in my class in the church sanctuary at the Brownville Pentecostal Holiness Church in Conecuh County, Alabama near Evergreen, Jesus baptized me with the Holy Spirit as I was kneeling at an old altar rail. Out of my inmost being starting in my stomach the Holy Spirit welled up inside of me like a well of water and came in me and I heard three words that were strange and even funny to say. I had never heard them before. I spoke them clearly and other words beyond the comprehension my mind began to flow and I became a tongue-talking Pentecostal for sure. In fact, I spoke in tongues on and off for three days. Melvine thought I was going crazy, but I wasn't.
That experience was just what I needed to prepare me for my ministry as an Air Force chaplain.
Sometime later as I was kneeling in prayer for the members of my church, and I prayed for them every week. I prayed for a few members each day of the week from a list I had made. As I was praying for the oldest member of my congregation, Mrs. Bama Alexander, the Holy Spirit came upon me and I prayed in tongues for several minutes. When the tongues ceased, I asked God for the interpretation. It came immediately. The Holy Spirit revealed that as I was praying Mrs. Alexander, God had dispatched two of His guarding angels to escort her spirit and soul into the immediate presence of God.
About 30 minutes later, Ruth Franklin, Mrs. Alexander's daughter and wife of Sam Franklin who knew about how to put up big tents and he worked with Oral Roberts to put up those big tents, Ruth called to let me know her mother had just died and she asked if I would conduct her funeral service. I asked Ruth Franklin if her mother died at 3 o'clock, and she responded by asking, "How did you know?" So, I told what had happened and she asked me to give that testimony at her mother's funeral service. And so I did. That was an experience to which I testified that was a first for me. I think it made an impact on the people who gathered that day, and it did at least for me, this Pentecostal blessing is real and I know it is real. I can not deny the reality of this gift Jesus gave me.
This gift is one you can have too. I pray that the Holy Spirit will be real in your life, and you will receive a new power and anointing to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Remember what the Scriptures teach. John the Baptist said, "And he (John the baptizer) preached, saying,"There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."