Derek Prince - When Derek Received The Holy Spirit
Shortly after my personal encounter with the Lord our unit was sent overseas. We were Number One Lightfield Ambulance, attached to Number One Armored Division. They never told us where they were sending us. And we were nearly two months at sea. We sailed westward almost to America, then down the Atlantic and then eastward around the Cape of Good Hope. We called in at Durban in South Africa for a brief stop and then up the east coast of Africa to Suez. That’s where we arrived I think if I remember rightly early in December 1940. I spent the next, really the next two or three years in deserts: in Egypt, Libya and the Sudan. And I learned, I think I understand why the Lord took Israel to the Promised Land through the desert. Because living in the desert is a very unique experience. Your priorities become very simple. Basically you have 4 or 5 priorities.
Number one is water, number two is food, number three is shelter, number four is transportation. Your whole life is built around that. And a lot of Eton and Cambridge was purged out of me not all of it, but some of it. And I became almost a friend of sand. And You can’t imagine how much sand plays a part in your life. It gets in your food, gets in your eyes. You had very little water to wash with. As a matter of fact, we often had more high-octane petrol than we had water. I don’t know how it came about. Our division advanced from Egypt right through to near to Tripoli. Then Rommel came out with his unidentified tanks and we retreated, and I took part of the longest retreat in the history of the British Army which was 750 miles from Tripoli back to El Alamein. It’s a very discouraging experience to be retreating continually for that length of time.
Having become a believer, I thought, I ought to pray about this. What will I pray? I didn’t know how to pray, but I felt the Lord gave me a prayer which was, Lord, give us leaders such that it would be for Your glory to give us victory through them. I was very disappointed in the leadership of the army that I saw, having a background in the military life, I expected more from officers than I saw them coming out there. So I patiently prayed that prayer every day for a long while. I didn’t know what was happening, But Auchinleck who was in command of the Middle East, was replaced by another officer called Gott who was up in the desert. Gott was flown back to take command in Cairo but his plane crashed on landing, he was thrown out, broke his neck and was killed. And so at that very critical stage the British forces were left without a commander.
And Churchill on his own initiative appointed a little-known commander by the name of Montgomery, and we knew nothing about him. Well, then the Battle of El Alamein was fought and I was somewhere in the rear. The next day I was listening to a news commentator on a little portable radio on the back, the tailgate of the truck, and he was giving a description of the preparation at Montgomery’s headquarters the night before the battle. He described how Montgomery came out, addressed his officers and men, and said, Let us ask the Lord, mighty in battle, to give us the victory. And when he said that, I don’t know if you can understand me, but heaven’s electricity went through me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. And God said, that’s the answer to your prayer. So I had always from that time on believed that God can intervene in history if we know how to pray. At that stage I developed a skin infection on my feet for which the doctors offered various names, each one longer than the previous one.
Eventually they just settled with chronic eczema. My officers in my unit wanted to keep me with them, but eventually I had to be put in hospital. And I spent almost a year on end in military hospitals in the Middle East. In due course I was transferred to a place called El Ballah on the Suez Canal. And there I was visited by a very unusual person a lady Salvation Army Brigadier who had a little ministry in Cairo. Her husband had died and according to Salvation Army regulations she took her husband’s rank which was a Brigadier. She was well up in her seventies and was just about as militant about the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues as other Salvationists are about salvation. So, God bless her. She’s with the Lord and has been for many years. She heard about this soldier sick and at the Suez Canal, and she got hold of some vehicle, I don’t know how she did it, she got a New Zealand soldier to drive her and she brought with her an American young woman, her co-worker and they drove, I think it was about fifty miles, to the hospital.
Then, fully attired in her bonnet and ribbons and everything, she marched into the ward, overawed the nurse and got permission for me to go out and sit and the car with them and pray. She didn’t ask me if I wanted to do that, so I found myself sitting in the back of this very small four-seater car with the American young lady beside me and the Salvation Army Brigadier and the New Zealand driver in the front seat. We began to pray and this young woman beside me began to vibrate and I mean she was vibrating very powerfully. And then I began to vibrate, and then everybody in the car began to vibrate, and then the car itself began to vibrate and the engine was not running. And I was aware that God was doing something. And then this young woman spoke in another tongue and then gave the interpretation. And I don’t recall anything of the interpretation except this one phrase, Consider the work of Calvary, a perfect work, perfect in every respect, and perfect in every aspect.
Now I got out of the car just as sick as I was when I got in, but God had shown me the place to look for an answer, what He called the work of Calvary, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And over the years I’ve come to see that Jesus, through that sacrifice, provided forgiveness for sin, cleansing from sin, and healing for our physical bodies. And I’ve had my ups and downs at various times, but I have never forgotten that whole revelation that came to me. And I am so overawed by God’s mercy that He would take pity on one soldier in a remote hospital and send all that and take all that trouble just to communicate that to me. A military hospital is a very depressing place anyway, but I think in Egypt or that part of the world it’s even more so. But I knew the Lord. I knew I could pray, and I just was wondering why I was sick. And I became very depressed. I said to myself, I know if I had faith, God would heal me.
The next thing I said to myself was, but I don’t have faith. I was reading my Bible faithfully and one day I read in Romans 10:17, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. And I latched onto that phrase faith cometh. And I said to myself, If I don’t have faith, I can get it. So then I said, well how does it come? and the answer was by hearing the word of God. So I decided I’m going to read the Bible through, I had plenty of time from beginning to end, and I’m going to underline certain themes with certain colors. And I chose for healing the color blue. So I started at the beginning of the Bible and read it through, faithfully underlining in blue everything that had to do with healing. Do you know what I had at the end? A blue Bible. I mean, nothing could ever have convinced me more completely how much healing is a part of God’s total provision. But I still had this problem that I was a philosopher, and I mean the training of philosophers is to make simple things difficult.
So every time I read healing I thought, Yes, but that’s only your soul. God isn’t interested in your body; it’s just your soul. So I went along and didn’t get anything until I got to Proverbs chapter 4 verse 20 and following, My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes … For they are life to those who find them, and health (and the margin said medicine) to all their flesh. And I said to myself, That settles it! Not even a philosopher can make flesh into soul. Then I saw that the marginal reading was medicine. So I thought to myself if I'm sick, the word of God can be my medicine. Being a medical orderly, I said to myself: how do people take medicine? In those days [it’s changed a little now], normally it was three times daily, after meals.
So I decided that’s what I would do, take the Bible three times daily, after meals, as my medicine. After about a couple of months, my condition had considerably improved but I was not fully healed, and I was discharged from the hospital at my own responsibility. I went back to the base depot in Cairo and about three days later I was posted to the Sudan. Well, Egypt was an unhealthy climate, but the Sudan was worse. In the Sudan I had very few options. I had no choice of diet, I really had no choice of lifestyle; all I could do was take the Bible as my medicine three times daily, after meals. I was first posted to Khartoum, but after a little while I was sent north up the railway line, to a railway junction called Atbarah, where there was what they call a Reception Station, that is a little medical facility with one medical personnel in charge, two beds, some medication, dressings, really a stopping stage for people who were being admitted to hospital.
So I was put in charge of this Reception Station at Atbarah and it was something of a luxury for me after my years in the desert etc. because there were two beds with mattresses and they had sheets, they were for the patients, of course. But there were no patients. So I really indulged myself. For the first time for about three years I didn’t sleep in my underwear. I put on one of these flannel night gowns, slept in a real bed and I began to get a tremendous burden of prayer for the people of the Sudan, the northern Sudan, who are almost exclusively Muslim and really at that time had not been evangelized at all. In fact, the British government wouldn't permit missionaries in that area because they didn’t want to offend the Muslims. And I got this tremendous sense of the need of these people in darkness. I got out of my bed and I began to walk to and fro praying with my whole heart and something really remarkable happened. My white flannel nightgown began to glow. It became really, I think, incandescent is the word.
And I realized that there was a special anointing, if you’d call it that, of the Holy Spirit giving me intercession for these people. And I mean they were not easy to love, these people. They were tough, they were unresponsive, but I got such a sense of compassion for them. So then the army soon sent me on to a place called Jubayt on the Red Sea where there was a small military hospital which catered only to Italian prisoners of war whom they were thousands at that time. So I ended up as responsible for the Sudani labor and for the rations and the feeding of the hospital. And I had as my assistant a Sudani named Ali. And he didn’t read or write in other language, but by mixing with soldiers he’d learned what you’d call “soldier’s English.” He was very sharp, very intelligent, but we didn’t have any kind of common ground until one day I discovered he believed in satan. Well I said, I believe in satan too. So that was our meeting point, common acknowledgement of satan.
Then a little while later he had an appointment with me every day to meet me in my little office and plan the work in the hospital. He came late, and when he was late he apologized and he said he’d been to the clinic in the hospital because he had a sore on his foot. And he showed me the sore because he didn’t wear shoes. Well, I knew that the Bible said something about praying for the sick and laying hands on them, and I thought, well, maybe I should do that. I don’t think at that time I’d ever seen anybody do it. So I said, Would you like me to pray for you? He said, Yes. So, I mean, I treated him like he was a bomb that might explode and I gingerly put my hands on him and prayed a rather formal sort of prayer and thought that’s it. Well, about a week later he came in as usual and he said, Do you want to see my foot? So I said, Yes. So he said, It’s completely healed. And so after that we had another basis for interchange. So I said, well I’d like to read to you from the New Testament. I don’t think he knew what the New Testament was, so we started at John’s Gospel and I’d read a little passage every day translating the King James Version into soldier’s English as I went along. He became very interested.
Well then we really became friends and he wanted to teach me how to ride a camel, so we agreed on that. He got two camels from somewhere and we would go out riding in the desert. Well, then one day I suggested we take a picnic with our camels, because I was in charge of the rations so I had access to what we needed. So we rode out quite a distance into the desert. By this time I was reading the New Testament to him in soldier’s English from John’s Gospel. And when we got to where we were going to eat our food there was a little brackish trickle of water running down the hill, and he said to me, We Sudanese drink this but you white people don’t. Well, I said, I’m willing to drink it, if there’s nothing else. So he said, Why are you different from the other white people? Well, I said, Jesus promised that if I drink anything deadly it will not hurt me. So I drank it and never suffered anything. And I could see that impressed him.
So we had our little meal, and I happened to be reading that day from John chapter 3 about being born again and I read that. And the phrase being born again really gripped him. He kept talking about being born again, what’s that? So on the way back on the camels I said, Would you like to be born again? He said, Yes, I would. Well, I said, listen. This evening when the sun sets, you go to your hut, I’ll go to my billet. You pray and I’ll pray for you, and you ask to be born again. So next morning I met him as usual. I said, Did you pray? He said, Yes. I said, Did anything happen? He said, No. And I was disappointed for a moment, but then the Holy Spirit seemed to whisper in my ear, He’s a Muslim. I knew very little about Islam at that time.
So I said, Did you pray in the name of Jesus? He said, No. But I said, If you want to be born again you have to pray in the name of Jesus. Are you willing to do that? He said, Yes. So I said, All right, this evening you go to your hut, I’ll go to my billet; when the sun sets we’ll pray. Next morning when I met him, I looked at him and I said, You’ve got it! And I mean, his whole face was totally transformed! And all the people in the hospital that knew him and knew he was my friend kept saying to me, What’s happened to your friend Ali? I said, He got saved. They said, What’s that? I said, Let me explain. My commanding officer at the hospital sent for me. He said, What’s happened to your friend Ali? I said, He got saved. So and really we became very good friends, as different as we could be in most things, but a real friendship developed between us. And I do trust the Lord that one day we’ll meet in heaven. I think that’s the first person that I’d really led to the Lord. And of course in view of my later experiences in the Middle East, I think it was very important I got to see that the Gospel works for Muslims just like anybody else.