I’ve never been a devout follower of any religion. As a child I was ceremoniously dragged to church every Christmas by my parents, but since that distant memory I have not spent too much time in any religious setting. This includes any Penticostal church.
“Dear Lord, Sebastian has come to us today so that he can connect with you and see your wondrous ways! Please speak to him and grace us with your presence!”
Pastor Lu, head of the New York God’s Healing Stream Church, is a devout Penticostal preacher. His supernatural work has spread world-wide and today he has agreed to initiate me into this extreme religion. If successful, I will be allowed to attend an official Sunday service with long serving missionaries.
“Dear Lord we can feel you in the room, please bless Sebastian and allow him to feel your voice!”
Currently I’m kneeling down on a mat with my arms rested on a chair in front of me. My hands are clenched and I have been asked to repeatedly utter the name Jesus.
Pastor Lu kneels next to me channelling God on my behalf. His voice is getting louder as he continues to chant and talk in tongues.
Speaking in Tongues is the product of God’s spirit being successfully instilled within your body. It is believed that God uses your voice and body as a vessel to directly communicate with his followers. His voice is tongues.
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” My eyes are shut but my mind is open. My quick chanting has become a slur over the ten minutes since I began. Pastor Lu interjects every so often with an elated YES before again continuing his appeals to God.
“That’s it Sebastian! Feel God. Allow him to bypass your brain Sebastian, and reach your inner-man! Reconstruct your inner man and that will point you in the right direction! God is in the room, I can feel him!”
The two other female missionaries who are here to help initiate me are kneeling directly to my rear; they too are talking in tongues. With their hands placed on my shoulders, an undecipherable murmur now fills the room of which I am the centre of attention.
“Sebastian, God is accepting you, if you feel compelled to use your tongue, just do so!”
A lift in intensity is sparked as the delirious Pastor Lu begins to clap frantically. He is tempting an all mighty crescendo of some sort. My chanting kicks up a gear as the Pastor starts patting my head at speed.
“Use your tongues Sebastian! Use your tongue!”
As ordered, I take a breath and begin flailing my tongue around my mouth in an attempt to copy the sounds of the others. I do quite a good job.
“That’s it! Yes!” yells Pastor Lu at the top of his voice, “That’s’ it!”
“Keep going!” supports one of the two missionaries from behind. The increase in head tapping ferocity suggests that we are heading in the right direction.
With my friend Dan also in the room for support, God only knows what he is thinking as I kneel only metres away from him, eyes shut, talking absolute gibberish amongst what I can only visualise to be an animated religious dance performance taking place behind me. My tongue wags at speed and at times I feel like a newly born child experimenting for the first time with the concept of noise. Alarmingly, I find it quite relaxing.
After thirty minutes of chanting I am genuinely tired. Although I can’t feel a direct connection with any supernatural being at this stage, I can certainly say that the voice of Pastor Lu is echoing in my head. He has told me exactly what to do up to this stage and I have followed his instructions meticulously.
Beads of sweat have found their way onto my forehead in this hot room, and the kneeling position has become somewhat uncomfortable. I need a rest. A controlled form of hysteria has developed among the three missionaries and I fear that opening my eyes might cause insult. Instead I slowly raise my head and let out an exaggerated sigh, hoping that they notice my discomfort. It doesn’t work.
“Sebastian, if you feel the lord is trying to get you to say something, please tell us! I can feel he is trying to communicate through your vessel.
This I couldn’t feel. I wished that I did, but all I could think was that I didn’t sigh loud enough.
“Sebastian, transform those tongues into words, the Lord has messages for us, and he wants to communicate through you!”
Again feeling pressured to perform I half-heartedly throw the word Rugsy into the mix; Rugsy being Dan’s nickname.
“That’s it Sebastian! More, more, more!”
A chorus of halleluiah’s and thankyou Lord’s trigger from the missionaries behind who are now firmly gripping my arms and shoulders.
Feeling too self-conscious to simply recite the nicknames of all my friends, I move back to tongues;
“Flippy doo wap wap blibbi di blop”
“Oh yes Lord!, that’s it!”
Seemingly we have reached our climax and accordingly the chanting quickly diminishes. I’m sweating and visibly worn out. Pastor Lu exhales loudly. I open my eyes half expecting him to be smoking a cigarette. He isn’t.
Initiation is a success. I know this because one of the two missionaries from behind turns me and holds me by the hands, she tells me that she has received a message from God during the chanting. It turns out that I am a messenger, God told her this during the chanting. He also took the time to share that he would teach me the ways very quickly and that I will tell many people of his supernatural ways.
To be continued…..