The attitude of many Christians toward us who believe that I Corinthians 12-14 is still valid and the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit are still present is: "You crazy Charismatics! You get excited, sing too fast, clap you hands, jump up and down, move people into a frenzy–then tell the sick ones they are healed! Like fools, they believe you, two days later the pain comes back! Disappointed, they blame God. You’re a bunch of stupid phonies! You ought to be put in jail!!"
If you don’t believe that attitude exists you may verify it online. We have lots of critics who enjoy showing their anger publically. You will find fierce accusations against us who believe what Jesus said: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." Acts 1:8. We are regarded as charlatans and fools. Here’s the problem for my own accusers: After a Spirit-filled prisoner in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary "laid-hands" on me and I was filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17,18) I saw more people changed by the power of God than I had in all my previous twenty-seven years as a pastor. Since that momentous day in 1977, I have witnessed men and women from all walks of life be transformed physically, spiritually, emotionally, by an encounter with the Holy Spirit. Some were medical doctors, college professors, pastors, street people, airline pilots, famous athletes, skilled professionals, children, and the elderly. These occurred everywhere the Lord sent me: From Africa to Argentina, England to Equador, Kazakhstan to Kentucky, South America to South Carolina, people’s lives were radically changed by the power of God. Another fact critics need to know: Worldwide, eight-five percent of all Christian conversions are being done by full-gospel believing preachers. Want an example?
A hundred years ago the Catholic Church owned Central and South America; there was less than 50,000 evangelical believers in both areas. Today there are more than 100,000,000 charismatic/Pentecostal disciples in those same places. The big change came in the early 1950's when a little-known American evangelist, Tommy Hicks, preached in Argentina and the Holy Spirit fell with incredible healing power. The President of Argentina, Juan Peron, was the first to be healed and began that phenomenal move of God. Almost forty years ago I preached in Argentina and talked with people who were present at Tommy's revival. One pastor for whom I preached, Omar Cabrerra, was fruit of Tommy's visit; one of his congregations had more than 100,000 members. And there were many other churches like this pastsor's. Recently, here in the U.S., I was with Randy Clark whose ministry in Brazil is witnessing radical healings and thousands of conversions.
My reason for telling all that is this: I recently received a letter from a woman, Rose Smith, who was dramatically healed in one of my meetings more than twenty years ago at Christ Chapel, Florence, Alabama. First, I want you to read the one she wrote at the time she was healed. That night, the church was holding services in their school gymnasium–and it was packed to the walls. Worship had begun, I was walking toward the pulpit when the Holy Spirit stopped me in the aisle, told me to turn around and look toward the left. He then pointed-out a woman I had never seen before. I learned later that her name was Rose Smith. From this point I will let her tell the story as she wrote it:
"Pastor Carrin, Let me tell you about the awesome and powerful way God touched me in a service you held at Christ Chapel in the summer of 1993. I had only known Jesus for a few months and had never been in a meeting where the Holy Spirit moved with signs and wonders. I had never been knocked to the floor by the power of God, and I simply did not believe in such things. The year before, three discs in my neck were ruptured and my arm became numb. X-rays and an MRI not only confirmed the ruptured discs but also showed that the nerve which went to my right arm had been deprived of blood so long it was now dead. The doctor explained even surgery would not help, and in time, probably the arm would atrophy. The pain in my back was constant and there was very little feeling left in my fingertips. I could not even pick up my Bible or open doors with my right hand.
"Then one night when you came down the aisle toward the pulpit, you stopped at the row where I was standing, and pointed at me. You had an usher bring me out. I was frightened and determined I was not going to fall. But when you touched my shoulders I felt a power, a force, an energy, like I had never come in contact with before, and I fell. You said, simply "She's Yours, Holy Spirit." I couldn't believe this was happening to me. I wondered, could this possibly be God? Then, I sensed a small, quiet "feeling" deep within me urging me not to move. But, I thought, "There is no way I am going to lie here and be humiliated." So I got up and went back to my seat. Within a minute you came back and pointed to me again. When I stepped out you said with an urgency: "Now, please! Receive everything God has for you!"
"And again I was on the floor. This time I knew it was God, and His power was on me. As I lay there, I humbled myself and asked Him to forgive me for getting up before. I told Him I would lie there as long as He wanted me to, and that I wanted all He had for me. Then I felt a surge of power moving in my body. It was like velvet-covered electrical currents. It moved down my spine to the very end, then came back up again. Next, it went down my right arm and back up. It did this over and over again. I don't know how long I lay with the hand of God touching deep inside my body. But I was so filled with joy because now I knew God is not only alive but He still touches and talks to us today.
It wasn't until I got home that I discovered I was healed. Totally. "That horrible, agonizing pain has never returned to my neck or back. I have written this entire letter with my right hand! My right arm continues to work perfectly. I give all praise and glory to Jesus! He has made me whole! He has set my feet upon the solid Rock. Glory, Honor, and Power to His holy Name!" -Rose Smith,.
I want to add to Rose’s testimony by repeating what the daughter told me happened when they got home. The two sat together in the kitchen as the daughter plied Rose with questions about the experience. Suddenly, the daughter leaped to her feet, opened the refrigerator and took out an a full gallon of milk. "Take this!," she said thrusting it at her mother. Rose reluctantly obeyed, wondering why such strange behavior, but took the gallon in her left hand. Snatching it back, the daughter said, "No!, mama, take it with your right hand!" Rose obeyed, taking the heavy gallon she began swinging it over her head. She was healed. Totally.
In the first half of my ministry, such a letter would have been impossible. Today, it is only one of many that testify to the healing power of Jesus. Though I regard myself as an ordinary minister with few special talents, there is no way I can deny the number of people whose lives have been radically changed by the Holy Spirit. It has happened! And it has been He, the Holy Spirit, not me. But there is more to tell: This week, twenty-three years later, I heard from Rose again. She writes:
"Dear Charles ... I am sure you won’t remember me but my life was radically changed through your ministry and God’s touch. I am so thankful that He sent you to Florence, Alabama. He used you to minister healing to my body and to show me a love like I had never known. I think of you often. I am still walking with God and He continues to talk to me, to guide me and to show me His amazing love. Thank you, Charles, for your obedience to God and for being such a beautiful example of the love of Jesus! In His love, Rose Smith" Rose has numerous friends and family members who knew the hopelessness of her condition the night she came to the meeting. Instead of becoming an invalid, dependent on others, Rose has lived a normal, self-sufficient life. Thank God!
READ WHAT SCRIPTURE SAYS ABOUT "LAYING-ON-HANDS"
Acts 8:14-17: Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit." This is what happened to me when the prisoner laid hands on me, quoting Ananias’ words to Saul.
Acts 19:1-7. And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him,"We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said,"Into John's baptism." Then Paul said,"John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied."
1 Timothy 4:14. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
2 Timothy 1:6-7. "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
Acts 28:8-10. "And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed."
At a different church in Birmingham, Alabama, I was doing "hands-on" ministry to people at the close of the service when my eye kept being drawn to a couple sitting in the rear of the building. They showed no interest in coming forward for prayer. Even so, I kept getting the Holy Spirit’s urging to go to them. When I had a moment I went to them, signaled each to step to the aisle. As I laid hands on the wife she was instantly down on the floor, under the power. Her husband followed in the same way. I later learned about their family tragedy–which I will let the wife tell in a brief note she later wrote:
Dear Pastor Carrin, Your ministry has changed my husband’s and my life. We lost our 4 year old daughter in a boating accident. We were Christians but knew nothing of the deeper workings and the healing power of the Holy Spirit. We were both very depressed and angry at God. When you *ministered to us we were "slain in the spirit" for the first time. The Holy Spirit began a healing work in us that has given us a reason to live and to worship His Holy Name. A hunger for more of God began in us that summer night--and praise God--the hunger has never been satisfied!! Since that time, we have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit operates in our lives. Thank you for giving your life to the ministry of people who are hurting; hopefully my husband and I will have the opportunity to give to others as you have given of yourself. GOD BLESS YOU! Susan Archer, Birmingham, Alabama *hands-on
Here is another testimony you need to hear: "My twenty year old son was killed by a drunk driver. I had so much anger against God for taking my son that I suffered from depression, guilt, and anger. Eighteen months later my husband took my adopted child and walked out on me. Then I was really angry. I left home one night to commit suicide, and I though why not give God one more chance. I did! I started going to church that following Sunday and the next Sunday my life got turned around. The next Sunday my daughter was saved. During the Holy Spirit Conference, Brother Charles Carrin *prayed for me and I was delivered from dependence on prescribed medication. There is nothing like the power of God and the Holy Spirit! I thank God for delivering me from depression, fear, and medication."
Now that you have read these scriptures and testimony letters--you can better understand my gratefulness for the Holy Spirit’s opening my heart to believe the full New Testament message. He brought me into harmony with Himself and made my ministry of value and significance to the hurting. In explaining to others why I believe in the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit, I tell them, "I see lives changed, bodies healed, homes saved, children rescued. What better reason do I need?" I would never go back to my former ministry in which I was powerless to help these people. The baptism in the Holy Spirit, without question, is the greatest blessing my life and ministry ever received. My advice to you is, quit arguing with God and get it! You will be glad you did. Today, I am in my 67th year of Ordained ministry and daily become a more committed believer in the power of "hands-on" ministry; I can never go back to days of preaching "powerless persuasion". Best of all, in my meetings today, I see God’s eagerness to minister through everyone who will believe the truth and apply it to their lives. My word to you is: Be a learner! Not a scorner! Am I a "crazy charismatic?" Yes, thank God! I not only believe First Corinthians 12-14 is valid but at some point have witnessed all nine of these wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation!