Easter Sunday, I officially celebrated 70 years of Christian Ministry and was honored by a wonderful church, Christian Life in Columbia, South Carolina. There were three morning services and, 2,000 people present to rejoice with me. Christian Life is a wonderful church where R.T. Kendall, Jack Taylor, and I, have preached for a number of years. Steven Chitty, the pastor, has brought this huge congregation to a high level of Kingdom-authenticity. They are real, free of religious nonsense, and earnest in their pursuit of God. Easter Sunday, my new book, Hooray And Hallelujah!, made its debut.
This is my Memoir and tells about my spiritual and secular journeys. Beginning with the early twentieth century, the Great Depression, World War II, I bring my story to the present day. For example, you may be shocked to learn about the demonized-house my family moved into in 1933, and the disastrous effects it had on our lives. In the language of Scripture, we were “destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). In the Second World War, Boynton Beach, Florida, where I now live, was the site of much German torpedo activity and American ship-sinking. Explosions blasted local people out of their beds at night and sent them rushing to the beaches to rescue sailors. I personally knew some of the people who served as “Watchmen” and heard German submarines charging their batteries in the darkness.
The book also has much humor: You will meet Mrs Abernathy, the elderly lady who kept the controls to her hearing-aid hidden inside the neck of her dress--and shocked young people in the choir when she changed the batteries. I am kind but “tell it all.” There are many testimonies of people’s miraculous healing and astonishing miracles.
Most importantly, I tell about my three life-changing Christian experiences: My salvation, my call to the ministry, and my being “filled with the Holy Spirit.” This last God-encounter caused my expulsion from my denomination and brought the cancellation of my Ordination. My departure from denominationalism began when I was a pastor in Atlanta and became a Counselor at the Federal Penitentiary. There, I was assigned to a prisoner named “Tom.” It was he who successfully opened my eyes to the truth of scripture-teaching about the Holy Spirit’s baptism. Finally, he “Laid-Hands” on me in the Visitor’s Room and I was radically filled with the power of God (Acts 1:8, 2:4, 19:6). Below, I quote from Hooray And Hallelujah!, a few experiences that explain why I could not ignore the testimony of this astonishing young prisoner.
“A week passed before I returned to the prison, checked in, and waited for admission. Huge as the Penitentiary was and with no way for Tom to see out its massive walls, he was waiting for me. Two huge electric doors, ten feet apart with sentries to inspect me, had to be entered. That day as I went through the second electric gate and passed Tom’s cell-block I saw his face pressed against the bars. I was shocked. “Tom!” I exclaimed, “What are you doing here?! They have not called your name!” “Charles!,” He laughed, “I’m waiting on you! The Holy Spirit told me when you came in the parking lot!” As an old-line Baptist, I had no training for experiences like this and was mystified by his behavior. Later, he read First Corinthians 12:8, to me, explaining that the Bible called such information a “word of knowledge” and that every Christian should experience this miraculous gift. My mind immediately went back to the message I received nearly thirty years before when I knew a month in advance that I would preach my opening-sermon on Easter Sunday. That was my first “word of knowledge,” but I did not know to call it by that name (1 Corinthians 12:8).
May 3, 1978, is a day I will remember forever: While I waited in the Visitor’s Room, I randomly opened the Bible and read Psalms 35:1-3: “Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, And stand up for my help. Also, draw out the spear, And stop those who pursue me. Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” Reading the passage helped me believe that God would someday rescue me from the depression that stalked me. A moment later I closed the Bible and pushed it to a corner of the table. Tom soon joined me, opened to the same Psalm I had read and said, “Charles, God wants you to hear this!” He then emphasized the same Scriptures and preached an encouraging message about my future. I was overwhelmed—even though my depression remained unchanged. Why he chose the same Scripture I had just read was beyond my explanation. The next week when I returned to the prison I was still puzzling over the incident. As I waited, I read Matthew 10:1-2: “When Jesus had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.” Unknown to me, this passage revealed the final half of my ministry as the Miami Vision had foretold.
Suddenly, I closed the Bible. “Lord,” I said, “Last week Tom read the same passage back to me that I had just read. Was that coincidence or was that You? If that were You, do it again!” With that, I closed the Bible and pushed it away. A short time later, Tom dropped into his chair, took the Bible and immediately began reading Matthew 10 aloud. His voice was emphatic, “Charles, God wants you to hear this! He is describing your future ministry! Benefit by it!” I could hardly hear what he said for astonishment at what God had done. This seems strange, but something in my mind fought desperately to keep me stoic, unmoved by the experience. I was not interested in the future; I wanted God’s help immediately. If He really cared about me, He would do something helpful now. I needed more than entertainment.
Later that day, when I left the Penitentiary, my brain was still grappling with what had happened. Outside, on the prison steps, I stopped abruptly, changed my attitude, and said. “Lord, I am grateful for these little evidences of your speaking through Tom. But I want a big one!” For a moment I waited, my mind searching for something suitable. “Next week when I come back,” I said, “I want Tom to tell me that all week long he has been studying the ‘Book of Joshua’ and Lord, I want him to read to me from the first of the book!” With that said, I hurried to my car and left the prison. When I returned the following week, I never opened the Bible. Nor would I let my mind think about Joshua.
Tom soon rushed in, and without sitting down reached over my shoulder, picked up the Bible. “Charles,” he said, “All week long God has had me in the Book of Joshua for you!” I held my breath. “Hear what He says to you!” He then read aloud from chapters one and three: “Only be strong and very courageous … Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6:9). I closed my eyes, bowed my head in astonishment. In the background–I could hear God saying, “Do you need more proof? I am speaking to you through this man! Hear what he has to say! Believe him! He has your answer!” One would think that such miraculous signs would have blasted me free from my religious stronghold, but they did not. A huge, monster-sized opposition dominated me from within. I desperately wanted the “new wine” of the Spirit, but I wanted to keep it in my “old wineskin” (Matthew 9:17). Too, I knew if I ever experienced what Tom had, I would lose my church, my home, my income, my friends, and everything I had worked thirty years to achieve. My loss would be huge. But if I rejected it, there was no other solution to my crisis. One thing was certain; I could not continue to live as I was.
The spiritual gift that terrified me most was the gift of tongues. I wanted nothing to do with it. It was undignified. Worse still, it seemed senseless and strange. I even told God that He should have left tongues out of the Bible. “More people would have believed the New Testament,” I reprimanded Him, “if You had not included the gift of tongues at Pentecost. People don’t like it!” When I shared my opinion with Tom, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Charles, you hate the gift of tongues because it is already doing its work in you. This is the only gift that exposes your pride, your egotism, and your conceit; it is for that reason, religious people hate ‘tongues.’” I stared at him; he was right on every point, and I knew it. He continued, “This offender-gift protects the other gifts. Unless you humble yourself to the embarrassment of tongues, the others will remain locked inside you forever.” I changed the subject, hoping to defend myself in a different way. “Tom,” I said, “In New Testament-doctrine a person cannot get saved without the Holy Spirit! When you receive Him, your destiny needs nothing more. He is in you and remains! Jesus said, 'He will abide with you forever!’”Tom answered graciously, “Yes! But, the Holy Spirit’s work in us is continuous-on-going-and we will not experience His final work until the Resurrection!”
I wanted to argue but listened. “Jesus is our example,” he said, “He was not only conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin but 30 years later was anointed by the Holy Spirit. The first took place in Mary’s womb; the second took place during His baptism in the Jordan. One could not replace the other.” I agreed. “In His first sermon at Nazareth,” Tom continued, “He specifically said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me …” (Luke 4:18). Conception by the Spirit equipped Him for the work of Redemption—Anointing equipped Him for public ministry (Luke 1:34,35; 4:16-18.). If Jesus needed two very definite works of the Holy Spirit, how can you say you don’t? Like Jesus, we need both! We need to be born-again by the Spirit and anointed by Him for ministry!” I started to interrupt but listened as Tom continued, “Scripture gives us five examples of people who experienced the Spirit’s dual-works: Jesus was the first. The other four, in the Book of Acts, are of believers being born-again and later filled with the Spirit.” He went on. “The first example is the original disciples. Jesus came to them the night of the Resurrection, breathed into them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ (John 20:22). Until then they were ‘Old Testament Jews.’ That day, they were “born again” and stepped into the New Covenant.
Later, on the Day of Pentecost these same disciples were baptized in the Spirit (Acts 1:5-8; 2:4). This equipped them with the Spirit’s miraculous gifts for world-evangelism (Matt. 28:18-20; I Corinthians 12). These two operations of the Spirit are not the same. Jesus did no miracle until the Spirit came upon Him at baptism.” I listened intently, knowing he was speaking truth but becoming more fearful of the decision it forced on me. Tom then gave other examples of people in the Book of Acts who received salvation and spiritual-baptism at separate times. He then challenged me to study them. They were: Saul of Tarsus, who was saved on the Damascus Road and filled with the Holy Spirit in the Damascus Room (Acts 9:1-6; 10-18); Cornelius, the Gentile Centurion, a believer on whom the Holy Spirit later fell (Acts 10:1,2; 44-46; 11:15,16); the disciples at Ephesus on whom Paul laid hands and were filled (Acts 19:1-6, Acts 1:5-8) ...
That week at home, I studied all the Scriptures carefully. One special day, I put down my Bible, sat staring into space and wondered how I could have spent so many years studying Scripture and failed to see this obvious truth. Tom was right! For years, I had missed this obvious reality. Even so, the effect this could have on my future terrified me.....my depression intensified and I interpreted God’s silence as being His rejection of me personally. He no longer cared if I lived or died. Finally, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day, 1977, I went to the prison and found myself weeping uncontrollably. Suicidal depression had a stranglehold on me. My brain was in chaos. At least four times I went to the men’s room to wash my face and blow my nose.
It looked strange to others in the Visitors Room. The pastor in his dark suit, white shirt, and dressy tie was being consoled by the prisoner in government-olive-drab. I could feel the eyes of the mafia inmates and their gaudily dressed women staring at me. But it didn’t matter. That day I was literally going over the falls and could feel my body getting sucked into the undertow. Praying frantically, I begged God to rescue me, but there was no response. Without His deliverance, there was only one solution left for me: When I left the prison that day, I would crash my car into a bridge, kill myself, and stop the pain. No one would know it was suicide. With that decision made, I dropped my face onto the table and broke into deep, deep groaning. I wanted to live, someday see my grandchildren, care for my invalid wife, but my pain was beyond words and hopelessness beyond help.
Conversations at other tables hushed and—except for me-—the Visitors Room became deathly quiet. It was a strange scene: Something vital, life-changing, was finally happening inside me: Self-will, religious pride, ego, was gasping and dying. The next moment, I felt Tom’s hand resting gently on my head and heard him quoting Ananias’ words to Saul of Tarsus: “Brother Charles,” he said, “The Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you came has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:17). Surrounded by Mafia godfathers, felons, mobsters, the gangster world’s most notorious criminals, and hardened prison guards, the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary became my “House on the street called Straight” (Acts 9:17).
THE PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS WORLDWIDE
Most Christians in America are unaware of the horrific persecution their brothers and sisters are experiencing in other countries. It is estimated that every year, 150,000 Christians are martyred for their faith. (Matthew 10:22). The top 10 countries on the list of persecutors are North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen, and Eritrea. Of these ten nations, eight are Muslim. In North Korea, some believers have been buried alive. In other countries, Christians are beheaded by Islamic terrorists, women and young girls raped, and children crucified. (Matthew 24:9. Revelation 20:4). Worldwide, an estimated 100 million more are persecuted in equally horrific ways. Christian females of all ages are sold into slavery, others disappear and are never seen again. (John 15:18). Of the top fifty oppressing countries 49 are in the Muslim-dominated Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
Open Doors, A non-denominational Christian watch group, identified Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Afghanistan, as the three most dangerous countries for Christian persecution. Another 65 countries are actively killing disciples of Jesus and there is no protection from local authorities. Sharia Law is merciless for non-Muslims. But Islam is not alone. Since May 2014, India’s government has been controlled by a Hindu Party under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With his approval, intolerance has risen sharply as radical Hinduism has gained greater political strength. In Bastar, Chhattisgarh, during Sunday worship, Hindu fundamentalists, raided a Christian Church, seized the pastor and his wife who was seven-months pregnant, doused them with gasoline and tried to burn them alive.
My New Book Is Published.
HOORAY And HALLELUJAH!
The price is $14.00 plus postage, $3.00. If you would like to make a larger donation to the Ministry it would be greatly appreciated. Next year, 2020, I will be 90 years old and want to stay active until my last breath. Your gifts help with future publications. Send your requests and contributions to Charles Carrin Ministries, P.O. Box 800, Boynton Beach, Florida, 33425. Thank you and God bless you! Charles