Linda (Mangeruga) Ireland's UPC Experience
My parents started going to the United Pentecostal Church in 1976. I was only seven years old. I had only been familiar with the Catholic church up until this point, so the UPC sure was an experience to remember!
One night, a guest speaker came to this church who was considered to be very, very close to God. His name was Brother Garlitz. I vaguely remember him telling us some interesting stories and he also mentioned that he can see angels. Sometime during the service, Brother Garlitz spotted my mother out of the whole congregation and asked her to come up front to the altar. At the same time he then pointed at me and said, "Bring your daughter, too." I remember my mom being amazed that he knew I was her daughter, since we had never met Brother Garlitz before. When we got to the altar, Brother Garlitz said that God wanted to fill us with the Holy Ghost.
We all started praying. As I prayed, I felt this sensation as if electricity was flowing through my body. My hands, mouth, legs, everything inside me- started shaking! I was crying, but I wasn't sad! I felt heat all around me as if I were standing under a heat lamp. As I prayed, I kept saying, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."
Brother Garlitz started speaking to me and he said, "Come on, Linda, speak! Let me hear you speak!" Then he spoke in tongues. I kept saying, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" and Brother Garlitz kept saying, "Let me hear you speak! ...(tongues) speak!" So I repeated his words of tongues. Then I heard everyone shouting with joy and Brother Garlitz moved on to the person next to me and started praying with them.
From that night on, every time I prayed seriously, I felt the "electricity," the heat, the tears, etc. I never doubted for a moment that I had received the Holy Ghost.....until I was about 12 or 13 years old. One day I sat chatting with a few of my church girlfriends and the conversation about speaking in tongues came up. As each one of my friends described their experiences as to how they first spoke in tongues, I realized I couldn't relate. Tongues had never just flowed from my mouth like it did theirs!
So, from that point on, I assumed that I had never truly received the Holy Ghost in the first place. As the years passed by, I still felt the "electricity" and the "heat" whenever I prayed, but I was striving for the tongues part of it. I wanted to speak in tongues so bad! By this time, I had heard others speak tongues so often that I could say the same words myself in my head. Even though words of tongues went through my mind, I never spoke those words because I didn't think it would be of God. I figured it would only be me speaking familiar words and not God making me do it.
By the time I was 15 or 16, I reached the point of giving up. I thought that there must be some kind of sin in my life that was keeping me from getting the Holy Ghost. The reason I felt this way was because that was what I was always taught. I felt that God was unhappy with me for some reason, so Ifigured I might as well live life to the fullest and make myself happy. That's when I started to 'rebel'.
For years I wasn't allowed to wear makeup, pants, shorts, tank tops, nail polish or jewelry. I wasn't allowed to cut my hair, go to the movies, go swimming at the beach (in a bathing suit), go to the arcades, or go skating. I wasn't allowed to watch TV, (other than 'Little House on the Prairie,' 'The Waltons' and cartoons). I couldn't listen to music that was considered rock, I couldn't dance....I couldn't, I couldn't, I couldn't! I'll tell you what I COULDN'T - I couldn't understand why God didn't give me the Holy Ghost after I lived my life in hell to make him happy! And he still wasn't happy with me! (So I thought!)
So I started wearing makeup, cutting my hair, wearing pants behind my parents back. I went to the movies, listened to rock music, started drinking and smoking pot. I went to church because my dad made me and while I was in church I'd polish my nails, write notes and laugh.
Once I was 18 I moved out of my parents house to get away from all the restrictions and guilt trips. I then stopped going to church all together.
For the next ten years I had no desire to step foot in any church. I did feel sadness for living in sin. I wanted nothing more than to make God happy and to someday live the rest of my life in heaven. But I knew it was impossible for me to live a flawless life and that's why I didn't try. I figured the only thing I could do was to ask God to forgive me after I committed a sin and maybe- just maybe he'd let me into heaven someday.
At age 29 I got married. I knew that having sex with my husband, Jeff, was no longer a sin and I felt free of that! I was tired of the partying and I was mature enough to realize that wearing makeup and pants was not a sin and it was not going to keep me from going to heaven! So I decided to try once more to live for God.
It wasn't until then that I was faced with the Holy Ghost issue again (a person must speak in tongues in order to be saved). But this time I didn't care if I ever spoke in tongues. I knew that only God could give a person tongues and if God didn't give it to me, then I can't be held responsible for not getting it! I was satisfied with what I had. After feeling the "electricity" and "heat", (tongues of fire?) I was just as peaceful and happy as the person who spoke in tongues. To me, that was the Holy Ghost and I was content with that.
However, since tongues is a heavenly language, I realized that something happens in the spiritual realm whenever it is spoken. So, I decided that whenever I needed a prayer answered or if I had a serious situation that I needed to bring before God, I was going to speak those words of tongues that I knew in my head. What would it hurt? I knew those words were of God and I wasn't doing it for the wrong reasons. I just wanted God to answer my prayers and I felt safe that the devil didn't know what I was saying.
My conclusion: The tongues I speak is between me and God- that's all that matters! My prayers get answered every time! That's my Holy Ghost, and no one can tell me it's not good enough!!
Posted June 23, 2000
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August 23, 1997
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