Journey of Faith

A church service like no other

When I first went to jail, church in county was pretty much held in the same manner as any other church service. We’d go in and there was singing and then the actual service. They would give the invitation at the end for whoever wanted to be saved to come forward. As I then went upstate and started going to church at SCI Muncy, I was somewhat disappointed. Apparently once you were classified, the services got better. In classification (aka blues) however, it seemed like all we would do is go in and watch a video. Don’t get me wrong, the videos were ok, but it wasn’t the same. After arriving at SCI Cambridge, it was time to finally experience church after months of waiting. I signed up, had my Bible in hand and I even had plans to meet my friend Sue there. I walked in and I was overcome by the Holy Spirit. I just cried and cried I was so happy to be in the presence of the Lord. The place was packed from top to bottom, wall to wall. We were singing and clapping, worshiping as loud as we could. They probably heard us miles away. The pastor was the sweetest lady. Her name is Reverend Smith. We all called her Reverend Nettie. This lady was the nicest person and would give us the most profound messages. As I continued to attend the church services, it was funny to see new people show up and their reactions to what was taking place. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. It was the only Protestant service offered, other than attending Bible studies. The “experience” started before you even reached the building itself. During the summer months, the door would be open to the auditorium. The thumping of the music, the singing, clapping of hands could be heard outside. The sound intensified as you walked up the steps and approached the room. Pre-covid these services would be packed. After we were allowed to return, only a certain number of inmates were allowed from a cohort group. The energy was not the same. During these services the Pastor would invite the Holy Spirit to come. She would also bind anything unholy and cast it out. This auditorium was used by everyone for anything, so it wasn’t just a church. The worship and the inviting of the Holy Spirit turned into many being overcome by the Holy Spirit. I think we all have felt overtaken by the Holy Spirit or felt his presence. This was something that I have never seen in my entire life of going to church. These ladies were falling out, speaking in tongues, screaming, hollering, crying, laughing. When new folks would come to the service the looks on their faces were that of utter disbelief. Some would never come back. Others returned and ignored it; some I think came to be nosey. The first time I ever experienced speaking in tongues, I was in middle school. I went to a friend’s home to spend the night. Her mom was having a prayer meeting. They started speaking in tongues, I was so confused and went home and told my mom what happened. We didn’t do that at our church. I thought it was some sort of satanic worship the carrying on that was occurring. After going to the services while incarcerated, I decided to do some reading. The best place to do that is in the Bible since that’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I wanted to know if this speaking in tongues was possible for real.

To understand who the Holy Spirit is we need to first look back at John 15: 26-27. This is when Jesus is preparing the disciples for his death. Jesus says, “26 “I will send you the Helper[a] from the Father. The Helper is the Spirit of truth[b] who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me. 27 And you will tell people about me too, because you have been with me from the beginning.” After Jesus dies, the disciples and others are then in the Upper Room in the book of Acts, Chapter 2. They are all mourning the death of their friend and teacher. Acts 2:1-4, (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[a] as the Spirit enabled them.). They didn’t really understand what was happening. Peter went out and the people outside thought they were drunk. (Acts 2:5-11). Peter, the one who denied Jesus 3 times prior gets up and addresses the crowd. He tells them, “Look they aren’t drunk it’s only 9am.” He explains that God said that he would pour out his Spirit on all people. (Acts 2:17-21) “17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]” So, he said ALL PEOPLE, not just the disciples. Not just the folks there that day. This was prophesied in Joel 2:28-32 before it even happened. Do you have the Holy Spirit? Paul teaches us that we receive the Holy Spirit as soon as we become Christians. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” Romans 8:9 tells us that if a person does not possess the Holy Spirit, he or she does not belong to Christ: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is the seal of salvation for all those who believe: “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” So I ask again, do you have the Holy Spirit?

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