How we unexpectedly began speaking in tongues.
Our story starts with myself (Paul) being born into the 2×2 group at a place called Curio Bay at the very south of the South Island of New Zealand. My grandmother came into the group somewhere around the 1920s as a result of the workers’ mission in the area. My parents professed before they were married, and in 1942 I was born as the eldest child.
We lived on a farm that had no road access, and so the only way to get to the outside world was by a small boat or by riding a horse to the nearest road. This situation remained until I was 11 years old when a new road was built to our house. For me that seemed to make us normal, just like everybody else who owned a car. I could now go to school, as up until this time I had done homeschooling. It also meant we could drive to the local house church meeting on Sunday, instead of rowing there in a boat.
I can remember about this time a local girl singing to me, “Cooneyite, Cooneyite, Cooneyite.” I did not really know why she sang this name to me. On asking, I was told he was a man who had gone wrong (whatever “going wrong” means to a young kid like myself)
We never saw many workers and lived a reasonably free kind of life. At the age of about 16 years, I had a feeling of wanting to profess and I attended a mission. It seemed no opportunity was given for me to do this. At this time I went to a city about 300 miles away, went to one mission and was given opportunity to profess. If I remember correctly, it seemed strange to come home and tell the local workers that I have already done it. I don’t know how they felt.
I worked on our family farm until I was 25. For a number of years before this, I felt an increasing desire to travel overseas. I think if I was really honest about it, I wanted to just get free from religious interference. In 1968 I took a ship to England via Panama Canal. I continued to attend meetings there and found I was able to become an individual and able to think for myself. Maybe you could say I was starting to grow up. In the three years I lived in Europe, I met a professing young lady named Celia, fell in love with her, got married to her and flew back to New Zealand a week later.
During my time in England, a friend of mine who had an Irish father said to me, “You know the meetings came out of such and such a church.” This seemed bizarre to me, as everybody in New Zealand believed it was a direct line from Jesus. I was too busy to think much more about this. Back in New Zealand I bought a farm and become the proud father of twin boys.
On one occasion during a trip back to England, Celia’s father bought out a large exercise book, and said, “Now that you are mature, I will show you the history of the meetings.” There before me was all the history of the meetings from Wm. Irvine and Edward Cooney from the late 1800s–when they started out in Ireland until around 1930–1940. I can still remember some of the names I saw. When he died in 1990 and his house was cleared, the book was nowhere to be seen. Strange how some things disappear????
All this did not really amount to much to me. I was busy with a wife and family. Towards the end of the 1970s, I started to feel a desire to find the roots of what I belonged to. I can remember looking through the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and I even peeked into a Christian book shop. I still remember the feeling of guilt as I did that. I never talked to Celia about my hidden longings or even some of my attitudes to certain aspects of the meetings. My thought was, “It’s not wise to show how you really feel.”
I got into trouble once by telling a sister worker that the Catholic church preserved the Bible and it was not the meetings. She was very very angry and threatened to leave our home at once, and things got worse when I said the meetings started at the turn of the century in Ireland. In 1982 I took my parents to England and Celia’s dad then told my mother about the start of the 2x2s. This was also a shock to her.
In the year of 1983, two young men knocked on our door and said they wanted to put a radio locator station on the top of the hill by our house. This was to guide a ship that was out in the ocean behind our house. It was from Hunt Petroleum doing a seismic survey for oil. One man said he was from Singapore and was put in prison for four years, found a Bible there and had become a Christian. The other man was from Canada and was a Catholic. We had times of playing the organ and singing hymns together. This seemed to satisfy some part of me; maybe there was some kind of rebellion there that thought we are not supposed to do this.
As I had a Wednesday night Bible study in our house, I invited them along. They said only one of them could come as the other one had to stay working at the radio station. It was the Catholic who came with his Bible that his parents had given him before he left home. The study was: Praising God. I felt, “I don’t think he will be impressed”!!!
At the end of the meeting, he said it was OK and asked if we were Charismatic. I had never heard the word in all my life, so being as proud as I was (God help me), I said, “Maybe—maybe not.” Well of course if we are in the only RIGHT group on planet earth, you cannot be seen to be ignorant.!!
So he proceeded and said, “Well charismatics are OK, but I don’t believe in this speaking in tongues.” Again, I was not sure what he meant, but thought I may have seen the word in the Bible. Certainly, I had never ever heard the workers talk about it. So I went and read through the Bible until I found the places where it was mentioned and thought, “That Canadian is wrong; it’s here in the Bible, so it must be right, but I don’t know anybody who does it.”
From this time on, I know something started happening. Very gently I felt as if at last I was moving forward in my spiritual life. I’ll explain it like this. Just imagine you are in a sailing boat sitting out in the ocean for 25 years with no wind, not going anywhere, having been in the same spot all that time. Suddenly, one day a little breeze comes and very gently you know you are moving forward. You cannot see the force but you feel it on your back and know you are moving. For me, the fact I agreed with a Bible truth started the breeze of the Holy Spirit who knew I was agreeing with him about tongues.
I started talking to Celia about things that we should have talked about years earlier. We started to get excited about stuff we did not know could be exciting. I rang up an old friend in England and told him good things were happening to us.
After a number of months, one Sunday as we were preparing for the Sunday morning meeting I felt desperate to get a message from God for the meeting. Not a quick one as I am going out the door kind-of-one. I am sure you know what I mean!!!!! The scripture I spoke on was the gospel of John ch 11 ver 39–Roll away the stone; and I said, “God is going to start rolling some things around.”
The meeting was in my Father’s house and he was the elder. Later we had dinner with my parents. My brother who was absent at the start came in later and said he had had a vision of Jesus. He lived about 1 kilometre away. After lunch, he said he was going home, and I said I would go with him. We both got in the car and started crying. It was an amazing type of crying experience. It felt good as if stuff was coming out and a whole lot of build-up was flowing out. It was abnormal for me, as I had only cried in my adult life a couple of times. I normally would never let myself cry.
When we were in his house and still crying, he said I had better go to his bedroom and pray. I went and knelt at his bed and because I was still crying, I was at a loss as to what to pray. All I could say was. “God make me clean.” Straight away I felt like a scrubbing bush inside, gently brushing away on the inside of me. Time seemed to stand still—it’s difficult for me to explain.
I got up and went back to the lounge where my brother was standing, and as I was walking towards him, I felt a surge of power start at my ankles and run up my legs through my stomach and chest and out my mouth. It felt like hundreds of volts of electricity. Immediately afterward, my chest felt full of this most exquisite joy and like a beautiful bubbling spring of water. I started speaking in another language I had never learnt. It seemed like walking out of darkness into a brilliant sunshine, and I was aware of a great desire to love the whole world. Although this was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me and I knew I would never let it go, I had no idea what it really was.
I went back to my family at my father’s house. As I walked in the door, my 12-year-old son said, “Dad’s different.” Celia said she thought I had seen an accident. My mother said I looked as if I had seen an angel; and my father just wondered what was going on. Four different observances of a happening, without anything being said by me.
At this stage, I just felt like going home to our own house, so we all went out to my car, and as I walked to the car, I remember thinking Jesus still heals today, and also was aware of in a sense, I can taste salvation. I know it seems a strange thing to say but that was just how it was.
On the way home I was aware Celia must be wondering what to do about this; and also the fact she was still in the same place, and I was in a different place. The picture I had was once we were on an ice floe (iceberg) together and it had now split and we were now each on our own separate piece.
I was alarmed we would remain that way for the rest of our lives. Once home, Celia went to our bedroom and I went to another room and just prayed, “God give it to her, God give it to her.” After some time praying, I went to our room and she was sitting up in bed. As I entered the room, she said, “I am all right now.” And I thought, “But you have always been alright!!”
Later in a conversation she told me as I entered the room, she had this incredible experience of a glory flowing in through the top of her head and filling her to the tips of her toes; and that is why she said, “I am all right now.” She told me all her Christian life she knew something was missing inside her. Even when she was doing the ironing, she would pray and ask God what it was and that day she received the missing piece. Later that day we read our Bibles and they seemed so fresh and alive.
We were filled with excitement for God, went off to the Sunday night meeting and started sharing how exciting all this was. The people were not receptive and saw us off track. Even the hymns seemed exciting to sing and we started singing them with gusto and enjoyed what they were saying.
We mentioned “speaking in tongues” in a meeting with a study on Acts 2, the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and they spoke tongues; however, we never actually spoke in tongues in the meetings. I wonder what it would have been like if we had! It was just explained away by all the others; but for us when you know you have been given something by God and you know that you know that you know it is real inside you…well, they could not really talk us out of it.
For a number of weeks, we had no idea what had happened to us but knew it was wonderful. We then came to the conclusion we had been baptised in the Holy Spirit because this was just how it was in Acts ch 2 on the day of Pentecost, and I had spoken in a new language and realised I had indeed been speaking in tongues. It was indeed great to see we had a Biblical experience and we had been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Because we knew no other Christians, we came to the conclusion we were the first ones to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit since Bible days. This caused us quite a concern because we felt we were going to have to go out and tell the whole world after a 2000-year absence that it had started again at the ends of the earth in New Zealand!!!!!!!
This lasted for a month or so, and really we had no idea how to go about this huge task. We were finally set free from such a task when someone sent us the book, “Power in Praise,” and we saw all over the world people were being filled with the Holy Spirit talking in tongues and singing in tongues.
The next day Celia believed if she was baptised in the Holy Spirit, that she should be talking in tongues. She was walking out to the clothesline with some clothes to hang out and she said, “God I want to speak in tongues.” As she lifted the clothes to the clothesline, a brand new language just burst out of her mouth.
The next day before we got out of bed she said, “I started speaking in tongues yesterday.” I said, “Oh really, let me hear it.” She said very shyly, “Oh no, I could not do that.” So I said, “Well I will show you what my language sounds like.” After speaking for a brief time, I thought she seemed rather quiet, so I looked around and saw she had pushed the sheet into her mouth. She said I sounded so funny that she wanted to laugh and so she put the sheet in her mouth to save embarrassing me with her laughter. These are some of the exciting things we experienced in our early days of walking in the Holy Spirit
We quickly realized what we were enjoying in God was not accepted by everybody else. We were told we had a different spirit but not a wrong spirit.
One weekend the workers came and stayed with us. They never said a word about all this and we went to the mission they were having in our local village. As we got into our cars to go home, in front of everybody sitting in their cars, the senior worker said,
“We felt very uncomfortable staying in your home and accepting money from you.”
We said. “If that’s a problem, just give it back!!!”
He then said, “And what does talking in tongues do for you?”
I said, “It does for me what the Bible says it will do for me in 1 Cor. ch 14 ver 4 KJV: ‘He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself’—or in the Amplified version—‘He who speaks in a tongue edifies and improves himself.’(makes himself strong).
He gave a snort and walked off. The whole scene was like a drive-in movie with everybody watching from their cars and the two of us providing the entertainment!!!!!!!! What he didn’t know was that he had just walked past one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to the body of Christ, and made it to be as nothing.
For me, I have used this great gift every day since then and know the strength and peace that comes upon me whenever I talk in this heavenly language. It makes me feel very sad when I watch that man struggling on in his own strength.
Both my parents both were filled with the Holy Spirit when they were around 67 years old. Never too old or too late. My mother came under pressure from some of the folks, went into the bathroom and just started speaking in a flow of tongues. My father started to give thanks for the food at a meal and started speaking in tongues instead, much to his own surprise. My brother also speaks in tongues.
We went on with things like this happening, and then one night the workers came and visited us and said that we were being disfellowshipped and could no longer go to the fellowship meetings. The same was done to my brother and also my Dad and Mum because they agreed that what had happened was from God
I have to say at this point we have absolutely no hard feelings to the people involved. Looking back over the 27 years since this happened, I can say being out is the best solution for us.
A number of months after all this, my 12-year-old son said to me one day, “The toilet is full of bright red fluid.” I asked if he had been there and he said, “Yes.” We took him to hospital and were informed that he had a kidney disease called nephritis which had caused him to urinate blood and had left his body full of urea. We had noticed he was looking as if he was putting on weight and thought this was a good thing as he was a light child, but instead he was quickly being poisoned by the urea in his blood.
Our doctor told us there was nothing they could do except keep him under observation in hospital and see if he improved. After three weeks in hospital, he was sent home, but the urea levels were still much too high. Every month for the next four months he was tested, but his condition showed no change. Suddenly after five months, we were told by the hospital they were going to fly him and his mother to Christchurch Hospital for tests and the hospital would pay the airfare.
We knew almost nothing about praying for the sick, so the night before their flight, I got a bottle of oil and poured it on his head and it just ran down through his hair. We put our hands on him and prayed for God to heal him in Jesus’ Name. James ch 5 ver 14.
Celia, his mother, flew with him to Christchurch Hospital the next day and was informed there that she was going to be taught how to handle him on a dialysis machine until they could get kidneys to do a transplant. This totally shocked her, as we had no idea he was so ill. He was given tests for three days and on the fourth day had a kidney biopsy which showed his kidneys were fine except for a little scar tissue.
He was sent home a normal healthy boy with perfectly functioning kidneys, with the instructions to have a check once a year. We were elated and gave Praise and Thanks to our mighty God. Once a year for the next three years I took him to the doctor for a check and the results were always good. I would tell the doctor, “God healed him,” which resulted in a blank stare from him in return.
He is now 37 old and has spent a number of years with Youth with a Mission and three years on the ship OM Dulous. He is now married and lives on the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall, England, and has two healthy kidneys, thanks to God.
Some people have said to us, “Well he could not have been that sick or the doctor made a mistake.” We always say, “Do hospitals fly people across New Zealand free of charge and start looking for kidney donors for no reason?” Of course, they don’t. I sometimes wonder what would have happened to our son if we had remained as stock standard 2 x 2s. He’d probably be on a dialysis machine or dead or on some donated kidneys.
All these things set us on a journey of discovery in God and seeing what His heart is really like. I have given my testimony to many groups and travelled to a lot of overseas countries praying for the sick and encouraging church groups. I have enjoyed reading some of the stories posted on the TLC website and feel we are all in this moving forward process together, and we can all encourage one another.
One time I wondered why I was given the privilege of being in the “right” group of people. Now I wonder at God’s grace that opened my eyes.
May I finish on this note. The reason some have been so interested in hearing my testimony was because of the tongues dimension of it. Can I say that the devil does not like people becoming empowered by speaking in tongues. In some places I travel, I find some people who are saying negative things about it or try to stop people from living in this wonderful new realm.
I have seen people healed by praying for them in tongues. It was the first gift that came with the Holy Spirit, and Paul the Apostle said, “I pray in tongues more than all of you.” Could that be the reason that he wrote a great proportion of the New Testament????
This is an outline of what happened to our family, it is so far back in time I tend to forget how I was before all this happened, but I know he has changed me in a wonderful way. All glory to Jesus
I pray you may be blessed by this testimony,
Greetings in our Lord Jesus,
By Paul and Celia Watson
Curio Bay, South Island New Zealand
My web site: www.curiobay.info