The River Online
It was 1972 and the charismatic renewal was in full swing. Bill and I had recently received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and had left our teaching careers in North Carolina and moved back to Texas where Bill enrolled in seminary. We were hungry to keep up with the flow of the Holy Spirit going on all over the world. Eight track tapes were now passé’ cassettes were “in,” and everyone was getting a cassette recorder. Although it was hard to make it on our little paycheck, we gradually set aside what we needed to purchase the cassette recorder we had seen in a local store for the handsome sum of $24.99.
Now we could communicate and take full advantage of the teachings of our favorite nationally known teachers. Listening to cassette taped teachings helped us to feed our spiritual hunger. We passed tapes to each other and listened to them at prayer group meetings.
We kept up with friends by cassette, too. It was fun to hear their voices rather than simply read their letters, and we marveled at the technology that had brought us out of the cumbersome reel-to-reel recorder age. Little did we know that thirty-five years later, we would still be flowing in the Holy Spirit but communicating the message to folks across the living room and around the world with laptop computers and the click of something called a “mouse.”
In 1994 when revival broke out in Toronto, faxes were “in” and e-mail was beginning to hit the scene. The same news that would have taken 2-3 years to spread in the Welsh revival in the early 1900’s, hit cyberspace in moments. Within a day or two, people started getting the message and began flocking to the little shopping center church at the edge of the runway in the world’s most ethnically diverse city.
Within six months, British Airways had to put on extra flights from the UK to Toronto just to accommodate a massive wave of seekers who wanted what everyone was calling “the Toronto Blessing. ”To date, millions of people have come from every continent in the world to experience the presence of God that hovers here.
God always spreads His news through people, and people spread it any way they can, usually through the best available mode of communication. Knowledge is increasing and to prevent our love for Jesus and for one another from growing cold, we need to access what God is doing by graduating to the current mode of communication. If the Apostle Paul were alive today, I am sure that he would get a laptop and log on missing out on a lot of stoning’s and beatings.
I don’t think God wants media access to fully replace face-to-face fellowship. I still prefer to hug people in person. And while Oral Roberts may have introduced us to laying our hands on the TV set for healing, somehow, it is just not the same, for me anyway, as receiving the Holy Spirit’s touch through the laying on of our brother or sister’s hand. The webcam can’t replace the fun of lying on the floor soaking in God’s presence in the same room with folks from all over the world. There are dimensions of God’s presence that are simply inaccessible through the media. You’ve just got to be there.
The pilgrimage, though, begins with hearing the news. The magi saw the star in the east and followed it to Bethlehem to see Jesus. Will the news of the next wave of God’s presence be publicized via the electrons flowing through the blogosphere to laptops at Starbucks? Yea, yea, woo, woo, “It is time to go online!“
Originally Published July/August 2007 Editor Melinda Fish