At this point, I had no more prejudice against the Charismatics. I repented in my heart of the things I held against them. I realized I had been acting in ignorance and pride. I felt a deep thirst for the Holy Spirit. I yearned to know Him more, so I maintained contact with the Charismatic Renewal both in the seminary and at my local church in Kumasi. Yet, I didn’t share my story with anyone. Years later, I told a couple of friends but this is the first time I’m testifying publicly.
Then came what I thought was a setback. On April 1, 2003, I received word from a fellow seminarian (from the Gambia) that the Rector, Rev. Fr. Soadwa, wanted to see me. I thought he was trying to pull a prank on me because it was April Fool’s Day, so I disregarded his message. But when he insisted, I went to see the Rector on April 2.
Fr. Soadwa told me that my Bishop (Most Rev. Peter K. Sarpong) had selected me to go to Rome to continue my seminary education (in Theology). I received the news with mixed feelings. Naturally, I felt honored and grateful to be selected. However, I wasn’t as excited as most people would expect. Some might find this statement shocking because studying in Rome (or abroad in general) is the dream of many a seminarian in Ghana.
I accepted the news and prepared to leave for Rome out of obedience to my Bishop. If I had my own way, I would have preferred to stay in Ghana (I felt the same way when in 2011, my new Bishop, Most Rev. Thomas K. Mensah, told me to leave for the USA for further studies. I’ll share details about this another time).
But here’s why I felt apprehensive about leaving for Rome.
I had just tasted the sweetness and power of the Holy Spirit. Being in the company of the Charismatics made me so happy. I was growing in spontaneous prayer, in understanding, in knowledge of God’s Word (which was rare outside the Charismatic Renewal) and in fellowship with like-minded people. I was still yearning to speak in tongues and I knew the Holy Spirit was stirring up something big in me. I didn’t want to lose it or have anything interfere with my progress. And I feared that if I went to Rome that would be the end of my dream of growing in the Spirit’s anointing.
Although I had never been to Rome, the little I knew convinced me that the environment wasn’t conducive to the kind of spiritual growth I wanted. I recall, for example, what one priest told me before I left for Rome. His exact words to me were, “If you go to Rome with little faith, you will come back with no faith at all.” Moreover, we knew priests who had gone abroad and upon their return, they seemed to have lost their initial spiritual fervor. All of this made me feel concerned. At one point, I even thought it was the devil who orchestrated my going to Rome because he wanted to thwart my spiritual progress.
For my trip to Rome, I gathered as many materials on the Holy Spirit as I could find (Gospel song CDs and books). One of my favorite Holy Spirit songs was “Ngosra no nti” (meaning “Because of the anointing”) by Dorcas Appiah, a Ghanaian Gospel musician. Tears filled my eyes whenever I played the song and I felt energized. Some of the books I read at this time were, Good Morning, Holy Spirit and Welcome, Holy Spirit, both by Benny Hinn. I also read a book on the Holy Spirit by Mike Murdock and some materials about the life and ministry of Kathryn Kuhlman.
At the seminary in Rome I noticed something unusual happening to me. Our morning routine began with communal Morning Prayer (from the Breviary), followed by about thirty minutes of individual meditation and then the Eucharist. Nearly every morning during meditation time, I felt a tingling sensation on my tongue, on my lips and around my jaws. It didn’t last for the entire meditation time; it was intermittent. It felt as if someone tapped me with a little bit of electricity and then disappeared. I didn’t understand what it was. All I know is, it made me excited and joyful.
At the same time, I felt that something was rising within me; it had reached my chest area and wanted to flow out through my mouth. The closest example I can liken to this experience is the feeling of wanting to throw up, except what I felt wasn’t food or drink.
I lived with this feeling and the tingling sensation for a few months. I knew the Holy Spirit wanted to release something within me. I wanted this to happen so badly I wrote an email to one Rev. Fr. Atta-Nsiah, a priest from Ghana who at that time was also studying in Rome. I knew him to be a very spiritual priest and he was kind to me. So, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind praying over me to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, he was out of town and couldn’t respond.
But God’s plan for me remained intact. The day for me to speak in tongues finally came. This was early 2004.
I left the seminary one sunny afternoon and I was headed in the direction of the Roman Forum (We lived in Trastevere). I don’t recall what I was going to do; it was a casual day. I was alone, walking on one of the bridges over the Tiber river.
Suddenly, my jaws shook for about two seconds and I spoke out loud for another two or three seconds. I felt like whatever had been building up in me for months just rushed out and my tongue was loosed to speak. In the middle of this experience I caught myself and said, “Wait, what did I just say? I just spoke but it wasn’t English or Italian or my mother tongue.” Then, I heard a gentle voice within me saying, “You just spoke in tongues.” I felt so free and my spiritual life from that point accelerated in ways I didn’t imagine. Since that time, speaking in tongues has played a major role in my prayer life and my ministry to people.
In conclusion, I went from speaking against tongues to speaking in tongues. I hope my story encourages you and stirs up your faith in a positive way. In the coming days, I hope to share with you some of the benefits of speaking (praying) in tongues and why it is in your best interest to be open to this gift and to use it every day.
God richly bless you.