Steve and Sandra Long have been pastors at ...
Just last week Sandra and I were talking about where we would be without the River of God. What would our lives be like if we hadn’t responded to John Arnott’s invitation and come to our first revival meeting? This is what happened.
In the spring of 1993, Sandra and I began to informally connect to TACF. I attended my first conference, a prophetic one. I came away knowing how to hear the voice of God after attending Mark Virkler’s sessions. Because I now heard God’s voice, I started to follow what He said. In June of that year I felt God say that he was going to put me on staff at TACF, and so I approached John for a meeting. John Arnott didn’t know me very well, and by accident, I finished our meeting by saying something like, “My role in life is to help someone of vision accomplish their vision.” Those were important words. Little did I know that John and Carol had been praying to meet someone who would help them accomplish their vision. The next week I was offered a job.
Sandra wasn’t ready yet. We had just come through the second church split in two years at our Baptist church. We were reeling. I didn’t know it and as many guys do, I simply stuffed the pain way down. Sandra, being a “heart” person, was closing up shop, and she felt unable to do anything new. So we said “not yet” to John’s invitation.
On Monday, January 24th, 1994, we got a phone call from John saying that a revival had broken out at TACF and that the speaker, a guy named Randy Clark, was being held over for one more night. We came. We had yet to be touched the Holy Spirit and so as good Baptists, we sat in the back row and observed. What we saw was very, very different than what we were used to. We did not respond to the altar call for prayer for people who were burned out. We stayed in our seats watching the bedlam.
The prayer team spent well over an hour ministering to folks and everything was happening; laughing, falling, shouting, crying, twitching, and other stuff. When the prayer team began to pray for the few of us observing, it was time to leave. One problem.
The problem was that Randy Clark saw us putting on our coats. He quickly got to the back of the room before we could leave to ask us a simple question. “Can I pray for you?”
What kind of question was that? Do you say, “No, you don’t want prayer”, making yourself look like a hardhearted person? It turned out that we did in fact have hard hearts. We had shut down emotionally.
I think Sandra and I wrestled with what to say for several seconds. We both knew that if we said, “Yes,” that our lives would never be the same again. We both said “Yes.”
Sandra and I did what we saw others doing. We closed our eyes and put our hands out for prayer. What happened next was wonderful! In a matter of seconds we were on the ground for the first time in our lives. I was experiencing incredible peace as was Sandra. I didn’t know exactly what had happened, but I knew that something had. We drove home in silence, what do you say after that kind of night?
The next morning I woke up, and like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I had a small feeling in my heart. It was to read the Bible. Despite being a pastor, I didn’t read the Bible other than to prepare sermons. I had shut down spiritually and was coasting on fumes. My character was in decay. I was becoming hard to live with. I was critical and impatient daily.
I read the whole of Acts and thought, why haven’t I seen this before. The book became alive to me, and I saw Holy Spirit activity that I’d never seen before. It clicked, this Holy Spirit stuff is real, and it’s in the Bible! Sandra and I started to attend alternative meetings and within a week, our Baptist church loaned me to TACF to help “organize” the revival. Now, I was at meetings about five nights per week. Every night I stood on the prayer lines.
I changed! The pain of knowing I was in decay and not knowing how to handle it had been supernaturally take away.
About one month into the meetings, I came home after a day's work to find Sandra ready to talk. I’d already discovered as a man that when the wife wants to talk, it’s not often a pleasant experience. We went into our bedroom for the conversation, another warning signal of impending trouble. But instead of what I expected, Sandra said to me. “You’ve changed!”
I had no concept of what she was saying and thought she was referring to my clothes. No, she was talking about me as a person. She said that while I had been to 15-20 Holy Spirit River, revival, renewal, whatever they were meetings that I had changed. She told me that in the last month I had not criticized her once! She said that in the last month I had not lost my temper with our young sons! I’d changed.
I remember crying. The pain of knowing that I was in decay and not knowing how to handle it had been supernaturally taken away. Without anyone on the ministry team praying about criticism or anger, somehow the simple prayers of, “Come Holy Spirit” and “More” had worked. God had changed me! Sandra and I are not the same people we were in January of 1994 when we came to our first Holy Spirit meeting! Sandra’s heart is wide open again and her life has been transformed! Sandra loves people again and loves being a pastor.
She has blossomed into a woman of passion with something to give away. I am much, much nicer to be around. I am a whole lot better as a pastor, dad, husband and friend. We’ve both changed! Where would we be without the River of God? I am not sure, but it wouldn’t be where we are now.
This archived article was written by Steve Long for release in May, 2009. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.
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