As I approached turning 40, I was living on a 1700 acre farm on the edge of the "outback" of western Queensland, Australia. There were few neighbors and town was 45 minutes away.
I had begun to desire to be closer to God again. I was raised a catholic but by age 25 I had read enough bible to see that Jesus had not come for us to have that. I then spent about 10 years in a protestant church. The best thing about that time was that there were periods where I read the bible a great deal.
During that time, I had two questions that I had no answers for. They left me somehow longing for something more.
The first may seem odd. What was the "big deal" about Jesus? I had believed what I had heard about Him but I never found out what it was that He did for us. I knew he died for us for our sins to be forgiven. I respected that, but what did that do for me? How did it apply to me? From time to time I would tell myself, "One day I am going to sit down and read the Bible and find out what Jesus was about and why He came to Earth." That day never came.
The second question was more a feeling. Where was the Spirit that I read about in the book of Acts? To this day when I read the first half of Acts I can sense and feel the power and life that those holy men had. Looking about me and looking at myself, I knew that no one around me had any of that power. Their lives were not transformed, merely conformed to the pattern of whatever church they were in.
I had been taught against the things of the Spirit of God, though not vehemently. But now, I found I had a yearning for God to be real; to find a God who was doing something. I began attending a very small pentecostal church. I went there because of the testimonies of my elder brothers who had lives that had been cleaned up through their experiences with Jesus.
I never heard speaking in tongues during services, and it was never spoken about but I began to desire that experience for myself. Finally, I attended a mid-week Bible study held in the kitchen room at the church. That night, I heard people praying in tongues for the first time. It was a confronting experience. I knew I did not have what they did. But I longed for it.
I was watching videos at this time which showed people around the world worshiping God with dancing and crying and a joy I had never seen. I loved it and I wanted God to be like that with us. Then, I happened to pick up a video of a meeting held by a man named Rodney Howard Browne. In it the power of God was so strong. I had not experienced anyone preaching like that. At the end of the video he was praying and the power of God was hitting people everywhere in the huge congregation. It hit my wife, Kay, as well, who was watching with me.
I didn't feel it and I felt left out. I wanted to feel God so much, and yet, I felt nothing in my body. I tried to reconcile myself to it. I tried to not care about it but the desire to feel God took me over. It was the only thing that mattered to me. Life had no interest for me apart from receiving a touch from God. The more I tried to explain to people how I felt, the stranger I seemed to them. Even Kay was trying to avoid me because I was so overcome by this desire. Apparently, I was fairly unbearable at the time :)
After a week or two of this, one afternoon I found myself alone. Kay had gone out into our farm and I was alone with my feelings. I did something that I had never done before. I went on the internet looking for answers or something. I typed in "speaking in tongues" into the search box. I have no idea why I did that but I did.
The second entry in the results was for a site called Isaiah58. The site caught my attention immediately and on it I read these words, "This Web Site Is For Those Who Have Received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, with the Evidence of Speaking in other Tongues". I was disappointed because I knew I didn't have that but then I read, "(or those who are seeking this new birth experience!)" That was a relief!
I saw the statements that being born again was the same thing as receiving the baptism of the holy ghost, and immediately, I knew that that was the truth. A feeling flooded my soul. It brought relief and peace. I knew why I felt the way I did and why I wanted it so badly, to the point where those close to me thought I was "coming off the hinges". Straight away, I did not feel the way I had been feeling. I knew what I needed. I knew that I was not born again and I knew that it was OK to feel what I had been feeling, but now I knew what it was.
Next thing I remember was going to the gospel tract page and scanning the titles. They were wonderful. I didn't know what to read first but the first tract I remember reading was on titled, "The Blood of Christ". In it was shown the truth that the spiritual blood of Christ that washes us clean is the Holy Ghost. God used this tract to answer the question I had long had - What did Jesus do for me? What was the big deal? I felt these words through my being, "It is all about the Spirit". It was like a wave of light. At that moment I felt like I understood everything :) As I read more tracts, I saw more and more how Jesus had died to bring about the spiritual reality of the sacrificial laws, the Sabbath, and many other things in the Old Testament. I saw how communion and baptism were things in the Spirit.
Another thing I knew instantly was that no one I had heard of taught these things, and I knew that they would be unacceptable in Christianity. I understood that Christian churches were full of people who had never received the Spirit of God, and they were not even being taught to seek it. I felt in my soul that I had found something that was of God. I knew nothing of the people who had produced the material. They were irrelevant at that time. It was God. The doctrines I was learning from the Isaiah58 web site excluded the flesh completely. They taught that only what God does for a man produces anything eternal. No man would invent such a doctrine because it clearly would not gain them a large following.
For about 2 weeks, my wife and I spoke almost continually about the things I had found. We would wake up and just talk about it. We received a CD from Gary Savelli who owned the Isaiah58 web site. There was so many good things on that CD! We listened to the music all day, and at nights, I began to listen to the teaching series on the CD given by a man I had taken little notice of, John Clark.
I attended church just a couple of times. I came to understand that Jesus did not want me there any more. On Wednesday, March 28, after considerable wrestling in the flesh, I determined that I was going to go with God whatever it cost me or whatever people thought about it. I was not going to be a part of Christianity any more.
Next morning, we started to talk about the things of God as usual but I couldn't. I had no mind for it. It frustrated me to talk about the holy ghost baptism. I wanted to have it. It was time to be born.
Kay had received the holy ghost about a month before (before learning any of these things, but that is her story). Downstairs in the kitchen, she was feeling the Spirit. She said it was all over me. I couldn't feel it (as I thought). I was just feeling like I could not talk about these things any more. We ended up upstairs in the bedroom sitting on the end of the bed. Kay was encouraging me and gently touching my chin. We had never seen anybody receive the Spirit. It was all strange to us. All I can remember is at some point I stopped. It was like I blanked out and when I came to I heard a voice speaking like a little baby. I realized it was me. The relief was enormous. I remember crying in Kay's arms.
Since that time much has happened. Kay became pregnant around this time and Sarah was born in November. Kay had miscarried several times before (and after) Sarah, but the Lord gave us Sarah. Pastor John Clark invited us all to visit North Carolina in May 2002 and made it possible for us to do so. We returned in November for Thanksgiving and again in 2004. Visiting NC began the process of knitting our hearts in with the wonderful saints we met there.
By May 2006, we were living on a smaller farm. I had considered selling this farm and had had two realtors price the property. The price I had in mind was exactly in the middle of those two prices so I stayed with it. On May 7, a man came and looked at our farm and agreed to the price I had in mind. I had the faith that God was going to do something for us so that we could come to the US. I said to God that I needed a job. On May 30 I said to God that it was taking a while :) The next morning, on my birthday, I received an email from brother Gary offering me a job in the USA. I had discussed nothing about this with him or anyone else. I found that Australia and the USA had signed a trade agreement that included a special category of visa just for Australians. It was relatively easy to obtain. In just 100 days, we sold everything, obtained the visas and arrived in the US to start a new life.
God has blessed us with a life surrounded by people who love truth and the power of God and doing their part in the work God has given us. I hope and pray for the day when more of God's people can come to understand the wonderful life in the Spirit that Jesus died for us to have.