Since I completed my CLS in June 2017 at the Margao Chapter, this was going to be my first Singles Conference
My parents have been a part of the Charismatic Renewal all their lives, as a result of which I attended retreats every year since the age of 7.
After hearing about the conference through my fellow CFCI Singles at the Margao Chapter, I anticipated a fun filled experience with a lot of activities and competitions – nothing retreat like.
However on reaching there, it felt like any other retreat- praise and worship, dancing, raising hands in praise, sessions and the like. All I could think of was “I’ve been to hundreds of these and I didn’t particularly like them. How will this be any different?“
Begrudgingly I sat through the first session “A Heart that longs for us” given by Brother Jimmy Xavier from the community in Bangalore. He said,
“God’s love for us is unconditional and no matter what we’ve done, God still love us. We are his children, his adopted children and He will never ever disown us.”
These words stirred up in me a desire for a taste of that love.
Being in the renewal, my parents would tell me at every retreat, to pray for the gift of tongues. I prayed for it every time, but I never received it. All I could think of was ‘Is God mad at me? Have I done something wrong? Am I unworthy of receiving His blessings?‘
After hearing Brother Jimmy’s talk, I realized it wasn’t God, it was me. I was the one holding back from receiving his blessings in abundance. I realized that even though I said I wanted the gift of tongues, I never really desired it.
During the infilling of the Holy Spirit all I said was “Holy Spirit I need you“. I said it continuously as my song of praise and really expressed my longing for Him.
After the session, as I went back to my seat and everyone asked me ‘Did you get it? Did you get it?‘ I felt a sudden sense of despair and disappointment. In spite of my longing for the Holy Spirit I hadn’t received the gift. I left the hall, locked myself in the washroom and cried out to God, ‘What is this? Why me Lord, why me?‘
With all this turmoil at the back of my mind, I attended the next workshop, that was the healing workshop. All I could think of was, “I can’t do this, I can’t heal people. I don’t have the Holy Spirit. I can’t pray in tongues. I am too broken and unworthy“. Just around that time the speaker, Brother Gerard Antony said
“God uses us, BROKEN VESSELS that we are, to manifest His power and bring healing”
This one line stopped me from giving up completely.
Sitting on the floor for long periods of time has always been a problem for me. I used to get a very painful nerve pull in my lower back and in the days leading up to the conference, I had to spend a lot of my time sitting on the floor, after which I couldn’t walk at all- with every step, the pain was excruciating. On the eve of the conference, as I went to bed, I didn’t think I would be able to make it for the conference since the pain was unbearable. However, the next morning the pain had subsided enough for me to get there. During the healing session I asked my partner to pray for this particular problem that I had. She prayed. I didn’t think much of it and continued through the day.
That same night I unknowingly sat on the floor and remained there for a good 20-30 minutes. When I got up I had absolutely no pain! Thank you Jesus! I was so overwhelmed, so overjoyed, so excited and so amazed. All this time I knew that there was a God, now I truly believed it.
The Holy Spirit also blessed me with the gift of prophecy that day. Although the gift of knowledge and tongues were not as clearly manifested, I will not lose hope and will continue to pray to the Holy Spirit and grow in the Spirit.
The last day of the conference was filled with so much joy and peace. I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I left the place with some new found energy, enthusiasm and a completely different outlook towards my life.