In my dream, I didn’t recognize my surroundings, but it was a large room packed with women who were eagerly waiting for me to teach. Excitement permeated the air like electrical current. I did not actually see any faces, except for one, a white sister from my church, Stephanie, who always has a pleasant demeanor that lights up her countenance. She is loved by all in our congregation.
As the ladies settled into attentive quiet, I opened my message with a question that had a two-part answer. The curious thing was I never heard myself ask, nor did I know what the question was! However, I did know the answers. A lady called out, and I immediately recognized the voice of Shirley, a black sister from my church. She shouted: “The curse is broken!” I answered in kind: “That’s right! Now what is the second part of the answer?”
There was a buzz of discussion among the women, but no one offered to answer. Finally I interjected: “Well, I’ll tell you the answer next time.” With this there was a loud corporate groaning: “No!” But I just laughed and held out in a teasing way.
It was then my eyes focused again on Stephanie. I specifically noted she was wearing a men’s white shirt; it was perfect with no wrinkles, and a crisp starched collar. She was also wearing a men’s tie, but it had bright gold, purple, and white flowers that were markedly feminine. The style was nothing like what Stephanie wears. Then I awoke and lay there wondering about its meaning. I heard this response in my spirit:
She represents all women who have the same authority and position to hear the Word as men do. Just like Mary of Bethany, who sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His words, these women were eager to hear the teaching of God’s Word (Ref. Luke 10:38-42).
Then I realized I still did not know what the question was that I had asked the women. Yet I did know the second part of the answer: “Speaking in tongues.” I fell back to sleep, and in the morning when I awoke, I kept pondering what the two answers meant and how they were connected: The curse is broken and speaking in tongues.
Again, I was prompted in my spirit: The curse of being second-class, inferior, and subordinate for women is broken in Christ and in His church. “There is no more male and female, just as there is no more Jew and Gentile” (racial divisions). (Galatians 3:28).
In Christ, women can both learn and teach God’s Word.
But what about speaking in tongues? I still wondered. Quickly, the answer came: On the day of Pentecost, they were all together in one place, in one accord, in prayer and supplication: the disciples, the men, Jesus’ mother Mary, “with the women” (Acts 1:13-14). There was no separation of men and women, and when the Spirit came, they were all baptized, and all spoke in tongues! (Acts 2:1-4, 16-18). And as Jesus told them before His ascension: “But you shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me”—the women were also to be witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8).
The Gospel was the great game-changer for women!
How I Got the Holy Ghost
It was the summer of 1959. I was seven years old. I had been a church kid since my dad was saved when I was about two years old, but my mom did not get saved for several years afterwards.. He and Granny (Mother Hardy as she was known by her Bible class students) took me to church almost every night and on street meetings throughout Baltimore on Saturdays. While my dad preached on the street corner, Granny held me in her arms on the sidelines. Newly saved, and raring to go, his voice rose in volume and speed with boisterous enthusiasm as he preached the Gospel. I would start waving my arms and yelling along with him. I didn’t know what he was saying, or what I was saying, but I was catching the anointing!
When I was almost six, my mom finally got saved, and soon after my dad opened Faith Tabernacle Church in downtown Baltimore (now a part of University of Maryland Medical Center). In those days whenever tent revivals came to Baltimore, our church always supported them. I especially loved tent meetings: Dancing in the sawdust was a blast! I eagerly participated in everything and this included getting in prayer lines. It didn’t matter what they were for—prayer lines were a lot of fun—especially falling down under the power in the sawdust! Really, I just fell down under my own power, because I saw others doing it. Children weren’t scolded for pretending to be under the power. Most thought it was cute when we imitated grown-ups in church.
Again that night the preacher called people up front for prayer, and as usual, I went up. We stood shoulder to shoulder across the front of the tent, and I was standing near the end on his right. With my hands in the air, I kept peeping to see how close the preacher was to getting to me. I still don’t know if he actually laid hands on me. My next memory was opening my eyes and finding myself lying on my back in the sawdust—and the weird thing was—I didn’t know how I got there! This time I never got a chance to do my courtesy-falling-down thing—I had not gone down by my own power or my own will, or anyone else’s! It was the Holy Ghost who took me down! How do I know? I was speaking in tongues! And it was the easiest, most glorious thing I had ever experienced!
I looked up into faces of curious adults peering down on me in wonder. I recall one lady in particular, because she was wearing bright red lipstick, which was not worn by church women in those days. She had a look of curious surprise and incredulousness. But she certainly was no more surprised or incredulous than I was! I had been slain in the Spirit, and I was speaking in tongues, and I had absolutely nothing to do with it! He just filled me!
The next day I was still walking on air, and I couldn’t wait to tell my girlfriends about my experience. Karen, also age seven, was sitting on the black and gray sofa in my living room as I excitedly related to her how I got the Holy Ghost. I even demonstrated my new gift by speaking in tongues, much to her wonderment. She wanted to speak in tongues too, and in my naïve, childish faith, I tried to teach her how to speak in tongues. But it didn’t work! Because speaking in tongues cannot be taught! It is a gift to be received from the Heavenly Father!
In the decades since, the Holy Spirit has been my Comforter, counselor, teacher, anointer, and so much more. His Presence is to enjoy—His Power is to employ! Speaking in tongues is one part of the Baptism. The other part is power from on high! The power to witness effectively for Christ. Every Saturday, Granny took me door-to-door throughout the neighborhoods of Baltimore. We were a great team, grandmother and granddaughter. I would always begin with my little speech about my daddy the preacher and our church. This would soften hearts and open doors for Granny to preach salvation. More often than not, people prayed to receive Jesus.
At age nine, I preached my first sermon in youth service. At age 11, I taught Sunday school to the little tots, working my way to the young adults in my twenties. I also began preaching in Wednesday and Thursday night services. When I was in my thirties, I was given the pulpit to preach on a Sunday morning, which was my dad’s main service. Granny was there on the second row, and I kept glancing her way hoping for a sign of approval. She nodded her head from time to time, but there really was no expression that I could read. As the sermon progressed, I came under a heavy anointing with greater liberty in my delivery. At some point our eyes met, and for a few seconds in that locked-in mode, I saw in her eyes a look of godly approval and grandmotherly pride. And for a moment, it made me believe in my heart that it was the best sermon she had ever heard.
My Dream of True Wisdom
“Search the Scriptures; for in them you have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
These words, spoken by Jesus, referred to a well-known motto of the rabbis in His day. Nothing was more important to them than studying the Scriptures. This is the core of Judaism: Retention through repetition. I share this following dream which I had just a couple of years ago to remind us all how privileged we are to be able to read, search, and understand the Scriptures. That was not the case in the Old Testament, especially for women:
I was in a dimly lit room where two older men (in their 60s) sat talking. One, whose face I saw clearly and close-up, was a Jewish rabbi. The other man was turned toward him, so I only saw the side profile of his face, but I knew he was not Jewish. The rabbi was wearing a tallit (prayer shawl), and he was bald on top. The other man had thick white hair.
Standing in the shadows, I’m not sure what I was doing in the room. At first, I could not hear their conversation, until the man became overwhelmed with emotion at what the rabbi was saying. He seemed to be weeping and said to the rabbi, “You speak with such great wisdom,” and I understood the implication was that he wished he could have such wisdom. He said with a longing in his voice, “Your wisdom comes from God.”
The rabbi did not comment. He seemed unsure of what to say. Then I walked up to where they were sitting and interrupted. I asked if I could say something, and then immediately became embarrassed, because I knew it was improper for me, a non-Jew and a woman, to speak. I apologized, but the rabbi said, “It’s all right. Please say what you want.”
I addressed the other man: “The wisdom he (glancing at the rabbi) speaks is from God, but it has been passed down from generation to generation—from dynasty to dynasty” (from father to son).
At this, the rabbi smiled at me and nodded his head yes. I noted his eyes were pleasant. It was then I became aware that a yellowish circle of light glowed on his face. But it was so faint, it only stood out because the rest of the room was dark. I continued speaking to the other man: “But you can hear directly from God, and you can receive His wisdom from His Word.” Then I awoke.
As I thought on it, I recalled when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face shone so brightly with the glory of God, he had to cover it with a veil (Exodus 34:29-35, 2Cor.3:6-18)). Over generations, rabbinical interpretations of the Law have diminished it to a faint yellowish glow. It is great wisdom compared to the world’s, but it isn’t the pure, bright wisdom God gave to Moses.
In the dream, I understood that I am very privileged to have the true wisdom of God. And so are you, beloved Christian, be you male or female.