My Baptism in the Holy Spirit
and How the Lord Sent Me to South Africa
by John G. Lake
Divine Healing Institute
Note: The reference to Portland could put this writing after May, 1920, and within a span of 5 years.
The Call of God
Out of the darkness of night I have called thee,
Into the glorious light of the day,
Into the knowledge of God’s own salvation,
Entered through Jesus the Truth, Light, and Way.
He who hath planted within thine own bosom
Conscious salvation through Jesus the Lord,
Now waits to see the result of the ransom
Fulfilled in thee through the Spirit and Word.
Yield then, thy being, like Him, thine own Master,
His way for thee is the way of the cross,
Perfected He, e’en through sorrow and suffering,
Obedient even, even to death.
Here as with Him is the secret of victory,
That, having died, from the grave He arose,
In the new life of power divine and majesty
Triumphing over death, hell, and all foes.
Ascending upward above all the heavens,
Into the realms of glory divine,
Reigning as conquerors sending His Spirit,
Abiding ever in your heart and mine.
Thus in our nature the Spirit of conquest
Presses us forward in God’s holy war,
Advancing, compelling, delivering, destroying
All power of darkness wherever they are.
Through death to the victory, through trial to conquest,
Through suffering to glory, dominion and power,
Thus Calvary ever becomes the door opened
To Jesus, to heaven, to discipleship now.
My Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Eight years had passed after God revealed Jesus the Healer to me. I had been practicing the ministry of healing. During those eight years, every answer to prayer, every miraculous touch of God, every response of my own soul to the Spirit had created within me a more intense longing for an intimacy with and a consciousness of God, like I felt the disciples of Jesus and the primitive church had possessed.
Shortly after my entrance into the ministry of healing, while attending a service where the necessity for the baptism of the Spirit was being presented, as I knelt in prayer and reconsecration to God, an anointing of the Spirit came upon me. Waves of holy glory passed through my being, and I was lifted into a new consciousness of God’s presence and power.
I ministered for a number of years in the power of this anointing. Answers to prayers were frequent and miracles of healing occurred from time to time. I felt myself on the borderland of a great spiritual realm and consciousness but was unable to enter in fully, so that my nature was not gratified and satisfied with the attainment. Friends said, “You have the baptism of the Spirit; if you did not have it, you could not enjoy such a fruitful ministry as you do,” and other statements of this nature. Yet the longing in my soul was to me the evidence that there was a better experience than my soul knew.
Finally, I was led to set aside certain hours of the day that I dedicated to God as times of meditation and prayer. Thus a number of months passed, until one morning, as I knelt praying, the Spirit of the Lord spoke within my spirit and said, “Be patient until the autumn.” My heart rejoiced in this encouragement. I continued my practice of meditation and prayer. It became easy to detach my soul from the course of life, so that while my hands and mind were engaged in the common affairs of every day, my spirit maintained its attitude of communion with God. Thus, silent prayer became habitual practice. Indeed, it had been to a great extent all my life.
In the autumn, I was brought into contact with a minister of the gospel who was preaching a clear message of God and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In my study of the man and his teaching, I was struck with the fact that his interpretation of the Word of God was exceedingly true to what my soul understood as the real spirit of the Word.
Through his teaching, I was led into a deeper and clearer consciousness of God’s power to keep the heart of man free from the consciousness of sin. Instead of the usual struggle against evil in my inner life, such a consciousness of God’s cleansing power in my inner nature became evident that a joyous, victorious note came into my soul.
At this time, in addition to my work as a minister of the gospel, I was engaged as manager of agents for a life insurance company. During the period of which I now speak, I preached practically every night. After our services, I was in the habit of joining a circle of friends who, like myself, were determined to pray through into God to where we could receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as we believed the early disciples had received it.
It was my belief that not only should my spirit ascend into a new consciousness of God’s presence, but that the evident and conscious power of God should come upon my life. In my consecration to God, again and again I said, “God, if You will baptize me in the Holy Spirit and give me the power of God, nothing shall be permitted to stand between me and a hundredfold obedience.”
I continued to meet with these friends almost every night for months. A blessed woman of God who was visiting in our city and was being entertained at my home, observing the anguish of my spirit, said to me one day, “Come aside and let us pray.” As we knelt she said, “As we pray, if God reveals any cause of hindrance to you why you do not receive the baptism of the Spirit, you will tell me, and if He reveals any cause to me, I will tell you.” We prayed, and no hindrance was revealed to either of us. Then she said, “We will obey the Word of God and the practice of the early church.” Laying her hands on my head, she beseeched God that I might receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
A deep calm settled upon me. In the afternoon, a brother minister called and invited me to accompany him to visit a lady who was sick. Arriving at the home, we found a lady in a wheelchair. All her joints were set with inflammatory rheumatism. She had been in this condition for ten years.
While my friend was conversing with her, preparing her to be prayed with, in order that she might be healed, I sat in a deep chair on the opposite side of the large room. My soul was crying out to God in a yearning too deep for words, when suddenly it seemed to me that I had passed under a shower of warm tropical rain, which was not falling upon me but falling through me. My spirit and soul and body, under this influence, were soothed into such a deep, still calm as I had never known. My brain, which had always been so active, became perfectly still. An awe of the presence of God settled over me. I knew it was God.
Some moments passed; I do not know how many. The Spirit said, “I have heard your prayers, I have seen your tears. You are now to be baptized in the Holy Spirit.” The seeming rain ceased, but it had left such a calm, such a quiet of God upon me as my words cannot tell. Then currents of power began to rush through my being from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. These shocks of power increased in rapidity and voltage. As these currents of power would pass through me, they seemed to come upon my head, rush through my body and through my feet into the floor. This power was so great that my body began to vibrate intensely, so that I believe if I had not been sitting in such a deep, low chair, I might have fallen upon the floor.
An overwhelming consciousness of God’s presence possessed me. A new rush of power, taking hold of my very flesh, seemed to come from my feet and move upward. My throat and tongue began to move in a strange manner, and I found that I was unable to speak English. Presently, I began to speak in another language, one that I had never learned, by the power of the Spirit.
For years I had been a profound student of psychic phenomena and had observed among different bodies of Christian people various manifestations. Sometimes they would be of the Spirit of God, but other times they were purely psychic. I prayed, “Father, You know that I have witnessed many phases of psychic phenomena. Is this the power of God that is coursing through my being, or is it some characteristic of psychic manifestation? Is it real power, or do I just think it is power? Father, I want to know.”
God answered that heart cry in the following manner. At that instant, I observed my friend was motioning me to come and join him in prayer for the woman who was sick. In his absorption, he had not observed that anything had taken place in me. I arose to go to him but found my body was trembling so violently that I had great difficulty in walking across the room, and especially in controlling the trembling of my hands and arms. I was familiar with sick people, having ministered to them for so many years. I knew it would not be wise to thus lay my hands upon the sick woman, as I was likely to jar her.
It occurred to me that all that was necessary was to touch the tips of my fingers on the top of the patient’s head, and then the vibrations would not jar her. This I did. At once, the currents of holy power passed through my being, and I knew that it likewise passed through the one who was sick. She did not speak but apparently was amazed at the effect in her body. My friend, who had been talking to her, had been kneeling as he talked to her in his great earnestness. He arose, saying, “Let us pray that the Lord will now heal you.”
As he did so, he took her by the hand. At the instant their hands touched, a flash of dynamic power went through my person and through the sick woman, and as my friend held her hand, the shock of power passed through her hand into him. The rush of power into his person was so great that it caused him to fall on the floor. He looked up at me with joy and surprise and, springing to his feet, said, “Praise the Lord, John, Jesus has baptized you in the Holy Ghost!”
Then he took the crippled hand that had been set for so many years. The clenched hands opened, and the joints began to work—first the fingers, then the hand and wrist, then the elbow, shoulder, etc.
These were the outward manifestations, but, oh, who could describe the thrills of joy inexpressible that were passing through my spirit? Who could comprehend the peace and presence of God that filled my soul? The sanctifying power of the Spirit in my very flesh, subduing all my nature unto what I understood was the nature of Christ. The revelation of His will, the unspeakable tenderness that possessed me, a love for mankind such as I never had known—all were born within.
Even at this late date, ten years afterward, the awe of that hour rests upon my soul. My experience has truly been, as Jesus said: “He shall be within you ‘a well of water springing up into everlasting life’” (John 4:14). That never-ceasing fountain has flowed day and night through my spirit, soul, and body, bringing salvation and healing and the baptism of the Spirit in the power of God to multitudes.
How the Lord Sent Me to South Africa
Shortly after my baptism in the Holy Spirit, a working of the Spirit commenced in me, which seemed to have for its purpose the revelation of the nature of Jesus Christ to me and in me. Through this tutelage and remolding by the Spirit, a great tenderness for mankind was awakened in my soul. I saw mankind through new eyes. They seemed to me as wandering sheep, having strayed far, in the midst of confusion, groping and wandering hither and thither. They had no definite aim and did not seem to understand what the difficulty was or how to return to God.
The desire to proclaim the message of Christ and to demonstrate His power to save and bless grew in my soul until my life was swayed by this overwhelming passion.
However, my heart was divided. I could not follow successfully the ordinary pursuits of life and business. When a man came into my office, though I knew that twenty or thirty minutes of concentration on the business at hand would possibly net me thousands of dollars, I could not discuss business with him. By a new power of discernment, I could see his soul and understand his inner life and motives. I recognized him as one of the wandering sheep and longed with an overwhelming desire to help him get to God for salvation and find himself.
This division in my soul between business interests and the desire to help men to God became so intense that, in many instances, what should have been a successful business interview and the closing of a great business transaction ended in a prayer meeting by my inviting the individual to kneel with me while I poured out my heart to God on his behalf.
I determined to discuss the matter with the president of my company. I frankly told him the condition of soul I found myself in, and its cause. He kindly replied, “You have worked hard, Lake. You need a change. Take a vacation for three months, and if you want to preach, preach. But at the end of three months, $50,000 a year will look like a lot of money to you, and you will have little desire to sacrifice it for dreams of religious possibilities.”
I thanked him, accepted an invitation to join a brother in evangelistic work, and left the office, never to return.
During the three months, I preached every day to large congregations and saw a multitude of people saved from their sins and healed of their diseases and hundreds of them baptized in the Holy Ghost. At the end of the three months, I said to God, “I am through forever with everything in life but the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I disposed of my estate and distributed my funds in a manner I believed to be in the best interest of the kingdom of God, and I made myself wholly dependent upon God for the support of myself and family and abandoned myself to the preaching of Jesus.
While I was ministering in a city in northern Illinois, the chore boy at the hotel where we were stopping was inquiring for someone to assist him in sawing down a large tree. I volunteered to assist him. While I was in the act of sawing the tree down, the Spirit of the Lord spoke within my spirit, clearly and distinctly: “Go to Indianapolis. Prepare for a winter campaign. Get a large hall. In the spring you will go to Africa.”
I returned to the hotel and told my wife of the incident. She said, “I knew several days ago that your work here was done, for as I prayed, the Spirit said to me, ‘Your husband is going on.’”
I went to Indianapolis. The Lord directed me in such a marvelous way that, in a few days, I had secured a large hall and was conducting services, as He had directed. About this time, the following incident took place, which has had so much to do with the success of my ministry ever since.
One morning when I came down to breakfast, I found my appetite had disappeared. I could not eat. I went about my work as usual. At dinnertime, I had no desire to eat, and no more in the evening. The next day was similar, and the third day likewise. But toward the evening of the third day, an overwhelming desire to pray took possession of me. I only wanted to be alone to pray.
For days following, this condition remained upon me. I could neither eat nor sleep. I could only pray. Prayer flowed from my soul like a stream. I could not cease praying. As I rode on the street car, I prayed. As soon as it was possible to get a place of seclusion, I would kneel to pour out my heart to God for hours. Whatever I was doing, that stream of prayer continued flowing from my soul.
On the night of the sixth day of this fast that the Lord had laid on me, while I was washing my hands, the Spirit said to me once again, “Go and pray.” I turned around and knelt by my bedside. As I knelt praying, the Spirit asked, “How long have you been praying for the power to cast out demons?”
And I replied, “Lord, a long time.”
And the Spirit said, “From henceforth, thou shalt cast out demons.” I arose and praised God.
The following night at the close of the service, a gentleman came to me and pointed to a large, redletter motto on the wall, which read, “In my name shall they cast out devils” (Mark 16:17). He said, “Do you believe that?”
I replied, “I do.”
He said, “Do not answer hastily, for I have gone all around the land seeking for a minister who would tell me that he believed that. Many have said they did, but when I questioned them, I found they wanted to qualify the statement.”
I said, “Brother, so far as I know my soul, I believe it with all my heart.”
Then he said, “I will tell you why I asked. Two and a half years ago, my brother, who was manager of a large grain elevator, was attending a religious service. He was seeking the grace of sanctification and suddenly became violently insane. He was committed to the asylum and is there today. Somehow, in the openness of his nature, he apparently became possessed by an evil spirit. Physicians who have examined him declare that every function of his body and brain are apparently normal, and they cannot account for his insanity. If you say that you believe in the casting out of demons by the power of God, I will bring him here on Sunday from the asylum, and I will expect you to cast the devil out.”
I replied, “Brother, bring him on.”
Then we knelt and prayed that the officers of the institution would be inclined by the Spirit of God to permit the man to be brought.
On Sunday in the midst of the service, the man came. He was in the charge of his brother, along with an attendant from the institution. His elderly mother was also one of the group. They came in during the preaching service. I stopped preaching and said to the attendant, “Bring him here; let him kneel at the altar.” Then I looked over the audience and selected half a dozen persons whom I knew to be people of faith in God. I invited them to come and kneel in a semicircle about the man and to join me in prayer for his deliverance.
When they had knelt and were praying, I stepped from the platform, laid my hands on his head, and in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, commanded the devil that possessed him to come out of him. The Spirit of God went through my being like a flash of lightning. I knew in my soul that that evil spirit was cast out and was not surprised when, in a moment, the man raised his head and spoke intelligently to me. In a few minutes, he arose from the altar and took a seat in the front row beside his mother and brother. He listened to my address in perfect quiet. When the congregation arose to sing, he acted embarrassed because no one had offered him a hymn book. So I stepped down and handed him mine, and he sang the hymn with the rest of the congregation. After the service was dismissed, he remained and talked with me in a perfectly normal manner.
He returned to the asylum. The brother and attendant told of what had taken place. The physicians examined him and advised that he remain for some days until they were satisfied as to whether he was healed or not. On Wednesday, he was discharged. On Thursday, he returned to his home and took up his former position as manager at the grain elevator, a healed man.
Thus, God verified His word to me, and from that day to this, the power of God has remained upon my soul, and I have seen hundreds of insane people delivered and healed.
One day during the following February, my preaching partner said to me, “John, how much will it cost to take our party to Johannesburg, South Africa?’’
I replied, “Two thousand dollars.”
He said, “If we are going to Africa in the spring, it is time you and I were praying for the money.”
I said, “I have been praying for the money ever since New Year’s. I have not heard from the Lord or from anyone else concerning it.”
He said, “Never mind. Let’s pray again.”
We went to his room and knelt in prayer. He led in audible prayer, while I joined my soul in faith and prayer with him. Presently, he slapped me on the back, saying, “Don’t pray anymore, John. Jesus told me just now that He would send us that two thousand dollars, and it would be here in four days.”
A few days later, he returned from the post office and threw out upon the table four five-hundred-dollar drafts, saying, “John, there is the answer. Jesus has sent it. We are going to Africa.”
We purchased tickets from Indianapolis, Indiana, to Johannesburg, South Africa, for the entire party. The gift of money had been sent to Brother H. He read me a clause of the letter. As nearly as I can remember, it said, “While I was standing in the bank at Monrovia, California, the Lord said to me, ‘Send Brother H. two thousand dollars.’ Enclosed find the drafts. The money is yours for whatever purpose the Lord has directed you to use it.” I never knew who the writer of the letter was, as he desired no one else to know.
We left Indianapolis on the first day of April, 1898, my wife and seven children and I and four others. We had our tickets to Africa, but I had no money except $1.50 for personal expenses en route. As the train pulled out of the station, a young man ran alongside of the train and threw a two-dollar bill through the window, making $3.50.1 A young lady, who had been one of our workers, accompanied us as far as Detroit, Michigan. She needed $10 to purchase her ticket to her destination. As we rode along, I said to my wife, “When we reach Detroit, I will need $10 for Miss W’s railway ticket, and I have no money.” So we bowed our heads and prayed.
I had never taken any of my family or friends into my confidence concerning my affairs. They were not aware of whether I had money or not. However, when we reached Detroit, several friends were waiting to say good-bye. As I stepped off at the station, my brother took me by the arm and walked across the station with me. He said to me, “I trust you will not feel offended, but all day long I have felt that I would like to give you this,” and he slipped a $10 bill in my vest pocket. I thanked him, turned about, purchased the young lady’s ticket, and rejoined the party.
Out of my $3.50, we purchased some canned beans and other edibles, which we used on the train enroute to St. Johns, New Brunswick, where we took a ship for Liverpool. On leaving the ship, I gave half of this to our waiter as a tip. We remained a week in Liverpool at the expense of the transportation company, waiting for the second ship.
One day, Mrs. Lake said to me, “What about the laundry for our party?”
I replied, “Send it to the laundry. I have no money, but perhaps the Lord will meet us before we need to get it.” Being very busy, I forgot about it entirely. On the last night of our stay in Liverpool, just after I had retired about midnight, my wife said, “How about the laundry?”
I replied, “I am sorry, but I forgot it.”
She said, “Just like a man. But now, I will tell you about it: I knew you did not have any money, and neither did I. I prayed about it, and after praying, I felt that I should go down to the laundry and inquire what the amount of the bill was. I found it was $1.65. As I was returning to the hotel, I passed a gentleman on the street, and presently he said to me. ‘Pardon me, but I feel I should give you this,’ and he handed me a number of coins. I returned to the laundry, counted it out to the laundryman, and found it was just the amount of the bill.”
We rejoiced in this little evidence of God’s presence with us. That next morning, we left by train for London and boarded our ship for South Africa that evening.
When I got on the ship, I had an English shilling. I purchased a shilling’s worth of fruit for the children when our ship stopped at one of the Canary Islands, and the last penny was gone.
Through my knowledge of the immigration laws of South Africa, I knew that before we would be permitted to land, I must show the immigration inspector that I was the possessor of at least $125. We prayed earnestly over this matter. About the time we reached the equator, a rest came into my soul concerning it; I could pray no more. When I say I felt that we were “prayed up” on that question, Christians who get answers from God will know what I mean.
About eight or ten days later, we arrived in Cape Town Harbor, and our ship anchored. The immigration inspector came on board, and the passengers lined up at the purser’s office to present their money and receive their tickets to land. My wife said, “What are you going to do?”
I said, “I am going to line up with the rest. We have obeyed God thus far. It is now up to the Lord. If they send us back, we cannot help it.”
As I stood in the line awaiting my turn, a fellow passenger touched me on the shoulder and indicated to me to step out of the line and come over to the ship’s rail to speak with him. He asked some questions and then drew from his pocket a traveler’s checkbook and handed me two money orders aggregating forty-two pounds sterling, or $200.
I stepped back into the line, presented my orders to the inspector, and received our tickets to land.
Johannesburg is one thousand miles inland from Cape Town. Throughout the voyage and on the train, we earnestly prayed about the subject of a home. We were faith missionaries. We had neither a missions board nor friends behind us to furnish money. We were dependent on God. Many times during the trip to Johannesburg, we bowed our heads and reminded God that when we arrived there, we would need a home. God blessed and wondrously answered our prayer.
Upon our arrival at Johannesburg, Brother H. stepped off the train first. I followed. I observed a little woman bustling up, whom I instantly recognized as an American. She said to Brother H., “You are an American missionary party?”
He replied, “Yes.”
She said, “How many are there in your family?”
He replied, “Four.”
“No,” she said, “you are not the family. Is there any other?”
He said, “Yes, Mr. Lake.”
Addressing me, she said, “How many are in your family?”
I answered, “My wife, myself, and seven children only.”
“Oh,” she said, “you are the family!”
I said, “What is it, madam?”
As I recall, her answer was, “The Lord sent me here to meet you, and I want to give you a home.”
I replied, “We are faith missionaries. We are dependent on God. I have no money to pay rent.”
She said, “Never mind the rent. The Lord wants you to have a home.”
That same afternoon, we were living in a furnished cottage in the suburbs, the property of our beloved benefactor, Mrs. O. L. Goodenough, of Johannesburg, who remains to this day our beloved friend and fellow worker in the Lord. She is now a resident of Florida and has visited us in the West.