Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the accompanying Glossolalia was still nouvelle when I was a young believer in the 1980s. To be filled with the Holy Spirit was so special to us. A lot of emphasis was on the enduement of power that we received (Luke 24:49). However, I would face a personal encounter that has forever changed my life and ministry. I was a young pastor of a fast-growing church in Ibadan, Nigeria at the time and I was only 22 years old. My first pastorate was 9 months old and attendance had already ballooned to over 600 people, forcing us to start a 2 service arrangement using all the floors of Fadaka House, a 2-storey building in Oluyole Estate of the city. Then I got an invitation from Assemblies of God, Ikate, Lagos to minister Thursday May 30 evening and Friday May 31/June 1 1991 at an all night service.
I arrived the Lagos home of Brother Femi Atoyebi (Now Pastor and Senior Advocate of Nigeria) in the afternoon of Monday May 27,1991 and soon checked his video collections. ‘Bros Fem’ as I fondly call him is a passionate lover of God and of His Word. Visiting his home meant an opportunity to watch new teachings of American preachers that were a rarity in those days. I then saw a collection of videos of Benny Hinn crusades. I had the opportunity to watch a video of a Benny Hinn service from Rhema Church South Africa about 2½ years earlier on a Christmas Day in Ilorin, Nigeria and had been completely captivated by the ease with which he ministered healing and demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit. To find several crusade videos was such an exhilarating experience for me and I was going to make the most of it. By the time I had watched a couple of them, I was reduced to tears of supplication to the Lord to kindly use me also for His glory. ‘It is not fair that you would use Benny like this and not use me’, I complained to the Lord and His words interjected my thoughts as He said to me ‘the difference between Benny and you is that He is sensitive to My Spirit and you are not’. ‘Many times I come into your services wanting to heal and deliver the people but you will not let Me as you are stuck to your own programs. ‘Sensitivity is a result of intimacy and intimacy is a result of regular fellowship’. ‘If you will fellowship regularly with my Spirit, you will develop intimacy with Me and become sensitive to the intimate ways that I communicate’.
I spent long hours in prayer from that Monday till Thursday and Friday that I ministered. I talked a lot to the Holy Spirit and not sure whether He was talking back or I was wrapped up in an illusion, I didn’t care. Whatever this intimacy was, I wanted to experience it! Friday night came and as I ministered on the Holy Spirit, I sensed an unusual anointing. As I led the people in worship after teaching the word, the same anointing that was filling Brother Femi’s house as I watched the videos filled the church auditorium and revelations of healing miracles were being given to me in what would be the first time I would operate in the dual working of the gifts of healing and the Word of knowledge. After declaring some revelations, I stopped to check if I was self deceived or if indeed God was using me as I demanded that the instantly healed should come out and testify. To my joy, the healing declarations were confirmed as reality. I led a second worship session, followed by more declarations and again, the miracles were confirmed. I led a 3rd session and God healed more people. At the end of the day, scores had been healed, a couple had seen visions of Jesus in the building, several souls were saved and I returned to Ibadan a changed man forever. Brother FEMI graciously ordered several crusade videos for me and sent them and they became my daily consumption, leading to a mighty move of God in my first pastorate.
As I stood to minister at the first Sunday service the following day, I was eager to share my new ministry experience with the congregation and as I did, the atmosphere of the service changed and I led the people in worship and healing declarations resulting in several testimonies of instant miracles. By the second service the manifestations and demonstrations of the Spirit were more powerful and so were the testimonies. I was by now becoming acquainted with the intimate ways the Holy Spirit leads. They include, inward desires and urges to lay hands or pray, the still small voice, mini visions and others. Occasionally, I missed the directive and felt bad when I had robbed God’s people of their blessings either through insensitivity to the Spirit or through a show of my own flesh. It was a learning process and I attained better stability with experience. Church attendance further ballooned to over 1,000 by the First anniversary first week of September. This trend continued till it was over 2,000 by second anniversary.
The transformation that took place in the church became a template for me to now teach the entire congregation to learn to develop intimacy with the Holy Spirit and it held the key to supernatural ministry, so did it hold the key to supernatural success in career, academics and business. It was a joy to lead God’s people into a deeper walk with God and life full of exploits. I was excited to see the people prosper to new dimensions and give God all the glory.
The supernatural is not always spectacular and that is where many miss the point. They expect dramatic angelic appearances, hearing audible voices or trances. While the spectacular increases during spiritual awakenings, a whole more happens as we yield to the inner promptings, directions and revelations of the Spirit. In the next article, I will articulate all I have shared today from God’s Word and guide us to an intimate walk with the Lord