In 1988, DeAnne and I moved to St. Louis to start a new church. It was to be the first Vineyard church in the greater St. Louis area and the second Vineyard in Missouri. We were only 33 and 31 years old at the time. We had worked hard during the two years prior to the move to “till the soil” for this new church. We did not know anyone in the St. Louis area at the time of our move. We had no team going with us, no worship leader, no support.
Prior to the move to St. Louis, during the eleven months of an over-300-mile round-trip every weekend, we had managed to gather about 11 people to be part of the new church. Two years later, with 40 people we felt led of Holy Spirit to reach out to unchurched people in a focused manner. We felt we wanted to increase in size in our new location, and so we developed a plan: DeAnne and I would undertake to call 20,000 people, with the help of about 12 others. We knew this would take us a few weeks at the very least. The hope was to find about 2,000 people out of the 20,000 who might be interested in visiting our new church. Out of this 2,000 we were expecting 90-100 people who would actually visit the church. We were set to have our first public service on Sunday morning in a month.
Part of the plan was for DeAnne to be the primary person to follow up with the 2,000 or so we hoped would indicate interest, and then, with the 90 or so people we hoped would actually visit the church. Even though we are positive thinkers, we were well aware of the daunting challenge that DeAnne was facing. She would need a special baptism of love for the people who responded, as well as divine enablement (grace) to accomplish the task before her.
The night before we were to begin calling, we met in a school with about 40 people. DeAnne was part of the small worship team. During worship, she suddenly began to weep. Then she collapsed to the floor and began not just to cry, but to wail. It was a loud wailing, accompanied by holy tears. It was so disruptive that the worship came to a stop. One of my leaders came to me and asked, “Do you want me to take her out of the room? Do you want us to carry her out to a private place?” I think there was some concern on his part that this might be a deliverance issue, or that there was a need for inner healing, due to the emotional wailing. I responded, “No, this is God, and I want the church to see how powerfully God can touch someone. People need to see the power of God.” I then instructed everyone to point their hands toward DeAnne and gently pray, blessing what God was doing to her.
This particular filling or baptism in the Spirit that DeAnne experienced empowered her with a special love and grace to follow up with hundreds of phone calls to new parishoners over the next few weeks. What was impossible in the natural was accomplished in the spiritual as a result of a touch of God’s Spirit.
Then, in 1994, DeAnne had a second powerful experience that occurred while I was traveling in Europe. Although this second experience was a potent encounter with God, it would be misrepresentative to say she had another baptism in the Spirit; it was more of a visitation of the Spirit that included holy tears, jubilation, and peace, and it lasted for days. When she called to tell me what was happening to her, I encouraged her to give herself to God and not worry about the church or the children because they would all man- age. I knew as I listened to her that she was having a Holy Spirit visitation similar to what John Wimber’s wife, Carol, had experienced. DeAnne’s experience lasted for many days. I will let her tell you in her own words what happened:
In August 2000, I had an encounter with God that forever changed my life. I had reached a point where I was overwhelmed by my sinful nature. I was broken and humbled before God. For three weeks I could not carry on with my responsibilities as a mother of four children and as co-pastor of the church that Randy and I had planted. I retreated to my room for three weeks, with worship music playing 24/7 and Bible and notepad in hand. For days I found myself weeping, reading the Word of God, and just sitting still before Him. Gradually, God began impressing Scriptures on me such as Song of Songs 5:2-6, Jeremiah 29:13, and Jeremiah 33:3. Then, He began to emphasize the story of Mary and Martha, especially Jesus’ response to Martha’s criticism of Mary (Luke 10:41-42 was magnified in my spirit). I began to realize that God was showing me that all my activities and all my earthly relationships would never fulfill me. My love for “doing” for Him had far out- weighed my love for time alone with Him. The more time I spent alone in His presence, the more I realized that if this was all I did for the rest of my life, I would be content. That was the lesson God had for me.
The following day, something lifted. I was able to return to my normal activities; however, one thing had changed: even though I was back doing the things a mom and a pastor needed to do, my one desire was to return quickly to that secret place, that alone time with God. I was no longer someone consumed with “doing” but was being transformed into someone content just to be with Him.
I believe this experience was given to prepare DeAnne for the move that was to come that would require us to resign from our church and move across the country to Pennsylvania. We received God’s direction for this great change in our lives through prophetic revelation. It was to be a move that would profoundly impact DeAnne. She gave up her position as co-pastor of our church, which had grown to about 400 constituents. She was taken away from her place as a member of the preaching team and as one of the chief prophetic persons in the church. She also had to leave behind many close friendships. Essentially everything that had given her identity and purpose was left behind in St. Louis. God was gracious to prepare DeAnne for what was to come through His visitation that lasted weeks.
There is probably no other experience within the last 100 years of Christianity that has been more controversial than the subject of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Indeed, although incredibly important, this biblical concept has generated great confusion within the Church. It is my hope and prayer that the Holy Spirit will enliven your mind to God’s great truths regarding the necessity of receiving all that He has for us and welcoming the blessings and empowerment that come with a touch from His Spirit. We should gladly receive all that we have access to through Holy Spirit baptism, laying aside doctrinal hindrances and pressing into the fullness of the mighty power from on high that is ours through Christ Jesus.
- Randy Clark, author of Receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit Feature Message