I was neck deep in graduation planning, party planning, government issues and meetings, counseling, speech writing, shopping, and more, and I still had to fit in house cleaning before Friday. I was stressed. I was nervous about my baby girl graduating and I was tired. So, when Tuesday evening rolled around, and we were experiencing severe weather I began to consider skipping the jail service.
I mean the ladies would understand with all I had on my plate. They probably wouldn’t even be expecting me in this severe stormy weather. After all, what if the jail lost power? We wouldn’t be able to have the service anyway. Not to mention, I had a stress headache that just would not relent. It would be a good evening to just go home, rest, and focus on the remainder of my extremely long to do list.
But I couldn’t do it. I know from past experiences that when I really don’t feel like going, and especially when the enemies influences start giving me all kinds of excuses to stay away—something big is going to happen. So, I loaded up the projector, my lap top, speaker, and my Bible and off to the jail I went. It was going to be a sacrifice, but I know God honors our sacrifices.
I signed in and went into the auditorium to set up, and I waited, and waited, and waited. No one was coming. What was going on? I waited at least thirty minutes and still no one came. Had I driven an hour to get here to find no one to minister to? Finally I pressed the button and asked if any of the ladies were coming to church. The reply came back, “Yes, we are getting them ready right now.”
Finally that familiar buzzer sounded, the door opened, and in they came. A bigger group than the previous week, but still not a big group—maybe ten? I began by greeting the new ladies, and we started the worship service. The whole time I was praying and asking the Holy Spirit to lead me and give me the words to speak. I had no idea what I was going to speak on but I knew He knew what the ladies needed to hear.
And He never fails. I began to preach by the power of the Holy Spirit and before I knew it women were weeping. I gave an altar call to accept Christ, and six ladies responded. We prayed, and they repented and asked Jesus to be the Lord of their lives. I typically give them an assignment to read a particular couple of chapters in the Bible and we sing another song and dismiss. But, I always offer to pray with them individually for any needs they have during the ending worship songs.
I had just requested that they read the first two chapters of Acts, and I told them we would discuss the baptism in the Holy Spirit next week. I started the music, and one by one they came to me for prayer. As I began to pray for the first young lady, the Holy Spirit began to reveal some things about her, and as I began to speak the words He gave me she began to tremble and weep…tears of joy.
I immediately felt that I should ask her if she wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. She said, “Yes! I want everything God has for me!” I began to pray with her again, and the moment I placed my hand on her forehead she began to speak in tongues. It was flowing out of her like a river. She was rejoicing and crying and could hardly stand. This lady had just given her heart to Christ moments before this. I’m pretty sure she didn’t even understand what the baptism in the Holy Spirit was, but she simply wanted more of Jesus.
The next lady came forward and said, “Miss Donna, I want what she got!” We both giggled and the Holy Spirit began to give me words to speak to her—meant only for her. She began to weep and before I could even put my hand on her head she fell under the power of the Holy Spirit. When I helped her up she was speaking in tongues.
She ran to the back of the room and grabbed a friend and dragged her to the front. She said, “Give it to her too!” I told her I was not the baptizer in the Holy Spirit but Jesus was, and if she wanted the gift to reach out her hands to Him to receive it. I prayed for her and gently placed my hand on her head. She immediately began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave her the utterance. Now, both of these girls were jumping up and down and praising Jesus.
Then another lady came forward and asked to receive as well. In just moments she was praying in tongues and weeping tears of joy. I cannot even describe to you the presence of God that flooded that jail auditorium. His power and presence was so thick it seemed physically tangible. One of the ladies said it felt like electricity in the air. Another said she had goosebumps from the moment she walked into the auditorium.
As I began to pray with one of these young ladies I sensed she was called to be a worship leader. She wept as the Holy Spirit began to reveal His plans for her. She told me, “My dad was a worship leader, and there’s nothing in this world I would rather do.” I told her she would be leading us in worship next week. She wept uncontrollably and was so excited. I prayed with other ladies for different needs. A lot of healing, emotionally and physically, took place. And I was reminded why I must always press on, especially when I don’t feel like it.
I sat in the parking lot after that service and cried. I know it had nothing to do with me. The Holy Spirit’s desire is to woo the sinner to Christ. He also wants to empower us to live a life devoted to Jesus, and to boldly speak the truth to a lost and dying world. It’s not by any strength or ability I possess, but by the wonderful, breathtaking power of the Holy Spirit!
Oh, what a blessing I would have missed if I had chosen to stay home. I certainly didn’t leave the jail with a headache. I also had plenty of time to accomplish everything I needed to do the rest of the week, and I did it without stress or worry! This is what revival looks like. When people realize God’s love for them, and they understand their immense need for a Savior then we begin to experience revival.
(This is not only happening in the jail, but in schools, churches, in open air meetings, and various other places. I would love to come and speak a word of encouragement to your congregation. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 319-541-1385)
Donna Sparks is an International Speaker and Evangelist. She is the Author of Beauty From Ashes: My Story of Grace, and, No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous.