THE BACKGROUND: I know that the name Thomas Ball Barratt (1862-1940) isn’t well-known. It was through this Norwegian Spirit-baptized Methodist that the Pentecostal message was introduced in Norway and spread throughout all of Europe. Read the following story about his Spirit baptism and then I’ll tell why I added it to my files many years ago and tell it often in our Ignite & Unite Conferences.
THE STORY ADDED TO MY FILES: He said that it happened when he came to the United States in 1906, although his purpose in visiting this country was to raise funds for the Methodist church, not because he had heard of any new move of God.
However, someone asked him when he was in New York, “Did you know there is a revival going on in this country?”
When he found out what was happening in California, he wrote to the mission at Azusa Street and asked how to receive the same blessing they had received from God. Their response was for him to tarry and wait on God, seeking the baptism of the Spirit daily. Also, they promised to pray for him.
He followed their suggestion, and on October 7, 1906, he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit – which marked the beginning of the Pentecostal movement in New York. Barratt, of course, took his new experience to the closest church, which happened to be a street mission. He spoke in tongues that night at the meeting when he asked a group of people to pray for him.
Some saw a crown of fire over his head and what looked like a cloven tongue of fire at the front of the crown. Barratt said he must have spoken in seven or eight different languages that night. As a man who knew languages, he recognized the “sounds” of changing from one language to another. Then he sang in another language. The meeting lasted until four A.M.
A man named Robert A. Brown, destined to become another of the pioneers, was at this meeting, so the spark of Holy Spirit fire moved across this continent and soon was taken to Europe.
Barratt went back to Norway, called the Methodist clergy together, and said, “Brethren, I’ve got it.”
They thought he had received a lot of money and asked, “How much did you get?”
He replied, “All I could hold.”
When they said, “Tell us how much it is,” he opened to the second chapter of Acts and said, “I got it. I speak in tongues.”
The Bishop stood up and said, “Well, you didn’t get it here,” and Barratt was removed from the list of clergy!
THE STORY SOURCE: Lester Sumrall Pioneers of Faith (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, Inc, 1995), 25-26.
THE SIGNIFICANCE: When I read the statement “Well, you didn’t get it here”, my spirit was pierced. Can this be echoed in our churches today? Are we shackled to our formulas and rituals or are we open for God to do what is needed, how it is needed, when it is needed? I want to be in a “you can get it here” church!