Today’s conversion story comes from David Johndrow, who converted from the Congregational Church to Charismatic Episcopalian (!). David is a programmer and blogger who authors the blog Fire & Grace and contributes weekly to Kingdom Bloggers.
David currently is a software programmer in Boston, where he resides with his wife and three daughters. He has traveled as a short-term missionary in the USA, Brazil and Norway. He has ministered in many denominations over the years, including: Episcopal, Baptist, AG, Full Gospel, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Vineyard Christian Fellowship and a number of independent churches.
It is his passion to see the church of Jesus Christ become one body working together to advance the Kingdom. A lover of a supernatural God and biblical principals in action, David enjoys teaching, the laying on of hands and prophetic ministry. Originally ordained with World Harvest Ministries (The Great Commission), and certified by the Bethel Bible School and both the John Paul Jackson and Dennis Cramer schools of ministry; David enjoys meeting and energizing the body of Christ to do great things for Jesus.
What events led to your conversion?
I was very bored with church! Even after getting saved in 1978 it was an exercise in stand-sit-kneel religion. For a 20-something, it just didn’t ignite any passion. I just remember that once I put away the alcohol and drugs, the burning in my heart for God was even more recognizable. I would close my eyes and I could feel him in there.
I tried a few different churches and I was used to folks being nice to me at church; however, I met a couple with kids my age and they really loved on me. They got to know me, gave me Christmas gifts, had me over for dinner and just regular stuff family stuff. The father took me to AA meetings. They gave me a Bible and I read the New Testament within a couple of days. A few years into our relationship they gave me the book, 9 o’Clock in the Morning by Dennis Bennett. I read the entire book in two days. I was confused about tongues, prophecy, healing, hearing from God and the rest of the supernatural stuff the author talked about. Without telling them I went right to the priest at my local Episcopal church and put the book on his desk. “What do you think of all this I asked?”
He led me in prayer, and I was forever changed just as the disciples were in Acts 2.
Please describe the conversion experience or process:
I had received Christ a few years earlier. It was genuine, and real. Truthfully, I didn’t really know what to do my conversion. I was glad I had it, and i was growing in the word, but it was more like spiritual jewelry. There I sat across from Father Folsom at his desk in the Spring of ’82. I had my NIV Bible and the book, 9 o’Clock in the Morning in my lap. We exchanged the standard greetings. I told him how I had met the Lord a few years before, and how I gotten sober in AA. I couldn’t wait to put the book on his desk; at the first opening I did.
“What do you think of this?” I said, half hoping he would tell me it was hogwash, and at the same time being excited that maybe all that supernatural stuff: tongues, prophecy, healing and hearing from God would be true.
He said slowly and cautiously, “I think it is for today’s church.”
I had a million questions, but all I could blurt out was “Really!”
“Yes.” he said.
Before I could think of another question, he asked me, “is this something that you would like to experience?”
“Yeah!” I said in an excited but very controlled Anglican way.
“Let’s go to the altar and pray.” he motioned as he got up from his desk.
We knelt at the altar and he began to pray in English — all very normal so far. Then he switched to another language — at first I though it must be Latin or something — he was a priest educated at Yale. Had had his hand on my shoulder as we knelt there together on the crimson communion pillows. What seemed like warm water started to pour over me — through me — like nothing I had ever experienced; well not like the tears of joy that I had for nearly a week after I got
In my heart I felt a bubbling up of peace and some sort of depth that I never knew before. I didn’t really know what to make of it all, but it was wonderful, refreshing, and odd all at once. I didn’t know it was the Holy Spirit.
Hank said, “just speak what’s in your heart.”
Somewhere in my heart (not in my head) I heard something that sound like French to me. And so I mouthed a few salable very quietly. I had a little French in 7th and 8th grade, but this was not that. I quietly, because I was slightly embarrassed, mouthed a few more syllables.
“That’s it.” he said, “that is the language of angels” (1 Cor 13).
I felt so peaceful I didn’t want to talk. I just quietly mouthed these strange sounds.
It was sort of novel the first few evenings and but the sense went away in a few days.
I finally told my friends what happened; they just smiled at me. Their daughter was there that night. She was very sick with bronchitis. I went up to her room where she lay in bed. She could barely make a sound. I asked her if I could pray for her and she gave me a thumbs up.
I gently laid my hand on her forehead and began to use these French sounding syllables. I had never asked God to heal anyone before. I kept thinking about what I read in the book, and all this seemed to be like that. After just a few moments I felt this heat come out of my hand – all very strange by not scary. She sort of made a gulping sound and reached for a glass of water on her night stand.
“It’s gone.” she said. I could see that she was expecting her throat to hurt she spoke. “It doesn’t hurt anymore either.” She took a deep breath, “it’s gone.” Then she sat up, “It’s gone!” she exclaimed.
She got up and actually yelled down the stairs. “Mom! Dad! It’s gone. I am not sick anymore!”
She was completely healed!
All this was so exciting that I started going to church every chance I got. I even started to go to another church just because they had a prayer meeting on a different night.
What kind of impact did your conversion have on your friends and family?
It changed everything about me, about my relationship with God, and my understanding of the supernatural realms! It shattered my logical/scientific approach to life. I had been so certain about science and knowledge before this experience. Now that I saw the spiritual realm, I was challenged in many of my beliefs. Even though I was sure there were lots of things I didn’t know, I sensed a completeness in my spirit which gave me peace — amazing peace. The biggest change was that I now felt the relationship with Jesus, and could actually somehow discern his voice.
My relationship with God deepened 100-fold, and I actually found it hard to work as I pondered this new dimension of my life. I just wanted to be with Jesus all the time.
What advice would you give someone going through the same experience or contemplating a similar conversion?
Seek and knock. Forget what you read that is negative, and what you think based on second-hand accounts. It is time to get alone with God and earnestly desire to know him. I wold try out some meetings — God is not going to hurt you.
What are three things you have learned in the process?
1) That God is much deeper than I ever imagined — for every verse that is in my heart, there are 500 more that aren’t.
2) That there are church folks who look at Charismatics from the outside, but miss the opportunity for an amazing intimacy with God because of shallow criticism from others.
3) That I wished that someone had told me the whole truth a long time before I had become bored with religion.
Thank you, David.
Previous conversion interviews:
• Jeremy Myers: From Senior Pastor to Church Dropout
• Mike Wise: Christian to Agnostic to Christian
• Jessica Gavin: Universalist to Seventh-Day Adventist
• Torie Brown Hunt: From Southern Baptist to Mormon