Sylvia and I had resigned our membership in organized religion in 1987, but we continued to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. There were times when He gave us a strong desire to attend a specific church service, and it wasn't necessarily to hear the sermon.
On the night of February 11, 1995, Sylvia came into the room where I was and said, "I'm going to church tomorrow!"
Something about the way that she said this bothered me. It was as if she had made the decision without including me. Perhaps she intended to go alone, or perhaps she was going no matter what I thought about it. I felt shut out, but knew the Lord wanted me to provide leadership. I asked, "Where?" And she told me.
It was snowing outside, so I said, "I don't think we're going to go anywhere tomorrow. The roads will be too dangerous."
When I awoke the next morning, I assumed that Sylvia was set on going to church no matter what, even though she had not used those words. It was cold outside, I didn't feel very good, and I just wanted to stay in bed.
Shortly the sun came out and I felt much better. I got out of bed and started my exercises with the thought that this might be a good morning to attend a church after all.
I asked God to make sure I had the "keys" that were lost when I was allowing Sylvia to assume the leadership role in our marriage, so that there would not be an open door for demonic attacks. I asked Him to make our relationship what He wanted it to be.
As I wondered why I was bothered so much by Sylvia's announcement last night that she was going to church today, a thought of rejection and abandonment came to mind. I was afraid that she would go and I would be left alone. It still wasn't clear why I reacted in this way however.
I told Sylvia to get out of bed if she was going to church. She said that it was too late, and added, "I turned the alarm off last night when you said we were not going."
Apparently our communication was not very good. Neither of us really knew what the other was thinking. I told her that we would miss the Bible class, but we could be there in time for the worship service. So we both got ready to go.
We arrived just as the service began and sat on the row behind some people we knew. When the service was over, a widow by the name of Pearl invited us to have lunch at her home with her and her sister, Bertha. Pearl was 86 years old and Bertha was 82. We decided to accept the invitation, even though I would rather come home. Sylvia felt that the Lord wanted us to visit with the two widows instead.
We knew Pearl better than Bertha. Pearl was a member of that church, but Bertha was a "visitor." Bertha has lived here for years and has always been a regular at their church services, but not a "member."
Later at Pearl's home after we had finished eating, I told the widows that Sylvia and I had witnessed the Lord doing some things during the past few years that we once thought could only happen in the first century. I told them about our healing and about the changes God is making in our lives. Bertha seemed to be taking it all in and acknowledged some of it with similar things she had read in Scripture.
Bertha and I sat in the living room and talked while Sylvia and Pearl washed the dishes and talked in the kitchen. Bertha said she didn't know why the Lord was letting her live so long, that she couldn't get around too well, and that she got depressed a lot. Then she told me that she and Pearl had never gotten along. Even though they spent a lot of time together, they did not have any communication. A strong thought dropped in my mind, as if from the Lord, that said the Lord has given them both long life to give them opportunity to change that. Soon, however, Pearl would be moving from here in North Carolina to Rhode Island to live with her daughter. Her house was already up for sale. I told Bertha that Sylvia and I would pray for her and Pearl to have a close relationship.
Sylvia and Pearl came into the living room and Sylvia came up to me and whispered, "Bertha has not been baptized."
Pearl went to her organ, turned it on and began playing music very loudly.
A few minutes earlier, I had thought that we could leave and go home when the dishes were done. Now, after Sylvia had said that Bertha had not been baptized, I began to wonder what we should do. And the Lord told me to ask Bertha if she had ever turned her life over to Jesus.
I sat down beside Bertha, put my hand on her hand and asked, "Bertha, have you ever told Jesus that you turn yourself completely over to Him?"
She leaned forward and tried to speak above the loud organ sounds, and told me that she had done something like that years ago, and that she had even been baptized. I asked her if she had been immersed. She said that yes, she had, and she did it to obey Jesus.
I asked Sylvia if she would ask Pearl to turn the volume down on her electronic organ, and she did.
Bertha said that she tried to place her membership with the church here, but the preacher wouldn't let her be a member unless she was baptized again. She said that when she was baptized before that Jesus came into her heart and that her whole life changed. I asked why she thought the preacher wouldn't accept her baptism. She said that she didn't know. I asked where she had been baptized. She said it was an independent church. I got the impression that it was a community church. It seemed that Pearl's preacher would not accept Bertha's baptism because it was not done in his denomination.
The Lord let me know that He accepted Bertha's baptism, even if Pearl's preacher did not.
When Sylvia returned from turning the volume down on the organ, I told her what Bertha had told me and Sylvia said a number of things to encourage Bertha.
Bertha said that if she agreed to be baptized again that she would be saying that she had not been properly baptized before and she knew that she had been properly baptized.
Pearl's right leg was very swollen and she had a lot of pain with it and other ailments. Her back was twisted, she had diabetes, etc. Sylvia suggested that we pray for Pearl.
I got a straight chair from the dining room table and asked Pearl to sit in it. Sylvia and I checked her arms and legs and in both cases they did not line up. One leg appeared longer than the other one and one arm appeared longer than the other.
Sylvia rebuked Satan and then spoke to some of Pearl's physical problems and I spoke to the pain in her leg. We could see her feet moving and coming into alignment. I touched the painful part of her leg below her knee and commanded the disks in her back to open up and allow the nerves to function freely. I spoke healing and restoration to the nerves, and commanded the pain to come out. Pearl immediately felt the pain leave and she showed us how she could bend her ankles now, which she could not do a few moments earlier.
We were all excited as we saw the Lord working. We also commanded the swelling in Pearl's leg to go down, but I wasn't able to see any difference. In a few moments, however, Pearl said the swelling had lessened. We expected that God would continue to bring it down to normal.
Pearl had been convinced by other church members that Bertha had not been baptized, or "scripturally baptized" and therefore rejected her sister.
Pearl had a lot of confidence in Sylvia. Sylvia told her that her sister had been baptized and that she was a child of God whether they accepted her in that church organization or not. Sylvia assured Pearl that she and Bertha were not only sisters in the flesh, but sisters in the Lord's family. We talked to both of them about praying together and letting the Lord heal their hurts, bringing them closer to Him, and to each other.
I reminded Pearl that she would be moving soon and would not be able to see Bertha, perhaps ever again. I told her that if she did not accept her sister and make good use of the time they have left together, that she would regret it.
Before we left, I led us in a prayer, especially that God would bless these two sisters. Pearl and Bertha both said that the Lord had brought us there that day. Sylvia and I knew they were right. They said that both of them had decided not to go to church today, but had changed their minds. I told them that we almost did not go there either. We looked at the time and it was after 5 pm. We had spent the entire afternoon there.
As we left, I said to both of them, "When you pray together, please pray for Sylvia and me."
What an exciting day, but the excitement did not begin until after we left the church building. During the church service we seemed to be engulfed in a grayish gloom. Apparently, the Holy Spirit's influence was very weak in that church.
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