It is significant that I related this experience first of all in my 1969 writing “The Memoir of John”, before even mentioning the momentous events of January 1965. (In the 1980 revision, Johannine Writings (I:1–9), though, it appears in its chronological place.) For although in January the revelation was given to me that God was real and not just some take-it-or-leave-it concept taught in church and school, the miracle which happened then did so outside of me, i.e. it happened to Chris. But my experience at the waiting meeting was the first definitely-perceived miracle to occur actually within me.
Perhaps Sunday 23rd May 1965 1.
After the Sunday evening meeting at the Full Gospel Church, Fleetwood, there was usually a Youth Meeting. This might take the form of a “Coffee Rendezvous”, where our young people went out and invited other young people from off the streets of Fleetwood to come in for a cup of coffee; the aim of doing this was to talk to them in the hope of persuading them to “accept Christ as their own personal Saviour”. (That was the saying commonly in use at that time.) One Sunday, however — 23rd May 1965 seems to fit in with the chronology of all these events — it was decided that we should have a “Waiting Meeting”. Some Pentecostal churches called these “tarrying meetings”; we called them “waiting meetings”. I never gave the origin of the terms much thought; but they seem to come from the Gospel according to St. Luke and from the Acts of the Apostles:
(Luke 24:49:) “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high”;
(Acts 1:4,5:) “And [Jesus], being assembled together with them [i.e. the apostles], commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptised with water; but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”
So that is what we did: those wishing to be “baptised with the Holy Ghost” knelt down at chairs — I have the mental impression that the chairs were scattered in somewhat random fashion to the left of the centre aisle and towards the front of the church — while those who had already been “baptised” went round and laid hands on the people who were kneeling. So I knelt there with my elbows on this chair. Now we were told to praise the Lord, so I started to think and to whisper: “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” I was feeling too self-conscious to do this out loud.
"I have the mental impression that the chairs were scattered in somewhat random fashion to the left of the centre aisle and towards the front of the church" — so, behind us as we look at this 1969 photo.
3. Then someone — it may have been Maurice Dowsing, but I am not sure about that — put his hands on my shoulders, and immediately I felt something emanating from the places where his hands touched my shoulders. It was like pins and needles, flowing from those places and filling my whole body, flowing and filling me from head to toe, so much so that I could feel the feeling in my teeth. And while this was happening, I felt myself being moved to praise the Lord, really praise him, not just whisper. With each succeeding breath, it just came out of me, louder and louder: “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!PRAISE THE LORD!” This — whatever it was — was driving me, but not in any trance-like or ecstatic way; if I had said, “No, I don’t want this!” then I could have stifled it.
The experience was completely new to me; as far as I can remember, I had been told very little about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. So I didn’t really understand what was happening to me. Yet I was not scared by it; I was quite open and trusting as far as the things of God were concerned.
The person who had his hands on my shoulders was keen for me to speak in tongues; for “tongues” are regarded as the initial evidence that one has been filled with the Holy Spirit. “Now go on to speak in tongues,” he encouraged me. He wondered whether there were any words coming to me; if so I was to speak them out. In fact, he was probably more positive than that; he told me to speak out the words he believed I had. But the only words that would come were English ones: “Praise the Lord!”
The ones who in fact spoke with tongues were acclaimed as having “got it” (hardly a fitting phrase to describe a divine enduing!). I don’t remember into what category I was put: that of “almost-got-it”, I suppose.
The fact that I was inspired to praise the Lord (loudly!) leads me to believe that what I had was a genuine experience of the Spirit of God. This has served as an anchor to my faith in the times when I have been tempted to doubt the truth of the Christian message. It was something tangible and concrete, something which cannot be denied, no matter what faith-sapping or faith-destroying experiences come my way.