Pentecost in the Mountains

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?’ … Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’ 

Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine’. 

Acts 2:1-8, 12-13

On one occasion I arranged for a team to minister in a Miao village that I had visited in the past. The team was made up of 12 people. Because of our numbers, I arranged for a van to take us as far up the mountain as possible. The village we were to visit was located high in the mountains in a remote and very poor area of our province. The road conditions were rough and finally, with a gasp, the driver pulled over and said that he had driven as far as possible. We would need to hike the rest of the way. 

After a short hike, we arrived to the sort of welcome that only the Miao can give. Believers lined the path singing songs of welcome and encouragement. They led us in this manner into the church. Although the population of the village is less than 200, a sea of over 250 smiling faces had packed into the church. This village and its church are at the center of Christian activity in the area and many come from surrounding villages to worship there. 

The service began and I was quickly reminded that there are few things so humbling as participating in a Miao worship service. You see, the Miao assume that everyone can sing. They are wonderful singers and their choirs are renowned for the exquisite beauty of their songs. It does no good to protest – visitors must always contribute at least one song. I had prepared the group in advance, so we marched up to the front of the church and sang our Chinese renditions of a few simple choruses. Afterwards, the Miao choir assembled at the front and began to sing. The power and beauty of their worship was breathtaking. Our team sat in awe as these simple people from the mountains – a people who, prior to receiving the gospel a little over one hundred years ago, were viewed as savages – sang songs that would have been welcomed in any cathedral in the world. And then their children’s choir sang. It was wonderful. 

When the singing came to an end our team began to share about God’s love and his power to change lives. After a couple of testimonies, my friend spoke from Acts 2 on Pentecost. He shared how God had been pouring out his Spirit on many – men, women and children – in their church and encouraged the Miao believers to open their hearts to God’s gifts. In spite of the simplicity of my translation, the message struck a chord in the hearts of the Miao. After the message, we asked for those who wanted prayer to stand. The entire congregation rose to their feet. Our team fanned out among the people and we all began to lay hands on the people and pray. The Spirit filled the place and many began to cry, speak in tongues, shake and worship with a loud voice. It was Pentecost all over again, but this time in the mountains of China. I had never seen anything like this in a Miao church. The Miao tend to be rather formal and reserved in manner and worship. But here, an incredible sense of hunger for and openness to the things of the Spirit permeated the place. Formalities were laid aside as people entered into the presence of God. 

In the midst of all this I noticed the driver of our van standing in the congregation and, with wide eyes, was taking it all in. I walked over and asked him what he thought about all that was going on. He replied, ‘This is wonderful. I am deeply moved.’ I asked him if he knew Jesus. He replied, ‘No, not yet; but I am ready!’ The impact on him of God’s presence and the authentic worship was evident. I shared the gospel with this man and then led him in the sinner’s prayer. His face radiated with joy as we returned home that day. 

Lord, send your Spirit again as on the day of Pentecost. I offer my life to you. Anoint me and use me for your purposes. Reveal your power through signs and wonders. Lead me with visions and dreams. And, above all, let me serve as your herald, your prophet, declaring your mighty deeds. Lord, I acknowledge that I am weak, but I recognize your strength. As your servant, filled with your Spirit, I know that I can fulfill the tasks you have for me. So, fill me now. Pour out your Spirit once again.