As we allow God’s Spirit to empower us to speak in languages we have not learned, we create a clear channel through which the other gifts can also flow. Here is one testimony from Jackie Pullinger, a Croydon girl who became a missionary to Hong Kong and to China, taken from her best-selling book ‘Chasing the Dragon’:
“Who do they think they are?’ I thought, when I first heard about the Willans. An American couple, their young daughter Suzanne and companion Gail Castle had just arrived in Hong Kong and were going to start a prayer meeting. ‘What a cheek! Hong Kong doesn’t need another one. I’m already going to one of these every day of the week. Anyway, they’ve only just come – they should wait to see the church situation first.’ It was two years since I had left England – a year since I had supposedly received the ‘gift of the Spirit’. I felt quite an authority on prayer meetings in the Colony. But my clarinet pupil’s mother – Clare Harding – urged me to go, saying that it would be charismatic. This new term described a meeting where they expected the various gifts of the Spirit – charisma – to be manifested. ‘Well, I’ll just go for a few weeks until I’ve learned all about it – then I’ll go back to the other meetings,’ I told Clare. And so I was introduced to Rick and Jean Stone Willans.
“‘Do you pray in tongues, Jackie?’ I was shocked by Jean’s American forthrightness. No English person would be that direct. ‘Well, no actually. I haven’t found it that useful. I don’t get anything out of it so I’ve stopped.’ It was a relief to discuss it with someone. But Jean would not be sympathetic. ‘That’s very rude of you,’ she said. ‘It’s not a gift of emotion – it’s a gift of the Spirit. You shouldn’t despise the gifts God has given you. The Bible says he who prays in tongues will be built up spiritually, so never mind what you feel – do it.’ Then she and Rick made me promise to pray daily in my heavenly language. They insisted that the Holy Spirit was given in power to the Early Church to make them effective witnesses to the risen Christ. Then to my horror they suggested we pray together in tongues. I was not sure if this was all right since the Bible said that people should not all speak aloud in tongues at the same time. They explained that St. Paul was referring to a public meeting where an outsider coming in would think everyone was crazy; we three would not be offending anyone, and would be praying to God in the languages He gave us. I could not get out of it. We prayed and I felt silly saying words I did not understand. I felt hot. And then to my consternation they stopped praying while I felt impelled to continue. I knew already that this gift, although holy, is under our control; I could stop or start at will. I would have done anything not to be praying out loud in a strange language in front of strange Americans, but just as I thought I would die of self-consciousness God said to me, ‘Are you willing to be a fool for My sake?’ I gave in. ‘All right, Lord – this doesn’t make sense to me, but since You invented it, it must be a good gift, so I’ll go ahead in obedience and You teach me how to pray.’ After we finished praying Jean said she understood what I had said. God had given her the interpretation. She translated. But it was beautiful; my heart was yearning for the Lord and calling as from the depths of a valley stream to the mountain tops for Him. I loved Him and worshipped Him and longed for Him to use me. It was in language so much more explicit and glorious than any I could have formulated. I decided that if God helped me to pray like that when I was praying in tongues, then I would never despise this gift again. I accepted that he was helping me to pray perfectly.
Every day – as I had promised the Willans – I prayed in the language of the Spirit. Fifteen minutes by the clock. I still felt it to be an exercise. Before praying in the Spirit I said, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray, or whom to pray for. Will You pray through me – and will You lead me to the people who want You.’ And I would begin my fifteen-minute stint. After about six weeks I noticed something remarkable. Those I talked to about Christ believed. I could not understand it at first and wondered how my Chinese had so suddenly improved, or if I had stumbled on a splendid new evangelistic technique. But I was saying the same things as before. It was some time before I realised what had changed. This time I was talking about Jesus to people who wanted to hear. I had let God have a hand in my prayers and it produced a direct result. Instead of my deciding what I wanted to do for God and asking His blessing I was asking Him to do His will through me as I prayed in the language He gave me. Now I found that person after person wanted to receive Jesus. I could not be proud – I could only wonder that God let me be a small part of His work.”