C.L. Wilgus Story

As a young naval officer, several years ago, I found the joy and thrill of the new birth. I had heard the story of Jesus many times, and I thought I was a Christian.

However, one Sunday morning in a little country church I heard it anew, and God opened my spiritual eyes and unstopped my spiritual ears. I was not seeking Jesus that Sunday morning; but someone had been praying, and He was seeking me.

At the close of the service an invitation was given for sinners to give their lives to Christ. I looked  around at  the  congregation  and  told  myself I was  as good  as  anyone there, and no one had better invite me to go forward. I made up my mind if that happened; I was going out the back door. When no person could help me to find salvation, the Holy Spirit gave the personal invitation! The presence of the Lord was there with such power that I began to tremble. He gave me a choice: "Christ or a cocktail glass. You choose this day!" I couldn't resist His invitation to accept Christ as my Savior, so I went forward and fell on my knees at the altar, overwhelmed at His concern for and knowledge of me. That moment a peace came into my heart that has continually flooded my soul ever since, even in times of danger and trial– and there have been several such times.

One of the great experiences of my life as a Christian occurred several years ago while flying a four-engine aircraft from an airfield in Florida.  I was an Ensign Plane Commander at the time and pilot of the aircraft.  I had completely given my life to the Lord a few months earlier.

We had just taken off from the airfield when the number two engine blew the exhaust stack loose, allowing flames to enter the nacelle area where the fuel, oil lines and oil tanks were located. We quickly reduced power on that engine and continued climbing on the three good ones. The aircraft was quite heavy and we were still very low, so we did not stop the engine completely by "feathering" the propeller into the wind.  Instead,  we closed  the  throttle and  set  full  low  rpm  to  obtain  minimum drag.

We   climbed a few hundred feet, and then turned back toward the airfield. The other three engines were getting hot.  Suddenly the number one engine "seized" internally and was completely stopped.  The propeller, however, was turning so fast all the nose section bolts sheared.  Oil ran back on the red-hot exhaust stacks and the whole engine was on fire. I ordered, "Feather number one," and reached for the throttles to get maximum power. The plane was dropping so fast I realized we couldn't clear the trees immediately below. To myself I said, "So, this is how I'm going to die!" There wasn't a doubt in my mind  that I had just traveled my last mile.

At  that  instant  I had  a  vision of Jesus   standing  with His arms outstretched and waiting  for  me.  I remembered my name was written in the Lamb's Book of Life - that I was a child of God. A feeling of peace, joy and sheer ecstasy swept over me. I saw another figure standing there - but sideways to me. I recognized him immediately as "Death" but his hands, which were behind his back, were bound together. Death could not touch me and the Lord was waiting for me with open arms! I cried out, "Jesus, save us!" That huge airplane sailed over the tree tops and did not crash. I don't know how– it was the Lord!

We were now so low that I planned to ditch the plane in the ocean near shore, but unaccountably it continued to hold some altitude and air speed. We were just clearing the wave tops when I saw an unused runway that was too short for the big planes, and was closed to all aircraft. We turned quickly, landed safely, and were able to stop at the very end of the runway. Our God  is able to do anything!

Recently a new "dimension" has been added to my life: the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The teaching of my church is against this experience especially the speaking in other tongues, but God has helped me to overcome the limitations of that background.

When attending my first FGBMF meeting in Modesto, California, I heard Tony Fontanne speak, and was amazed at the spirit of Christian love manifested in that group. I was forced to search the Scriptures to see if these things they talked of were true. After reading the Word, I had to make an agonizing reappraisal of my personal theology; but a new joy came when I believed the Word for this experience and decided to seek its fullness.

The first time I sought, I spoke a few confused syllables. Some of those praying with me rejoiced and told me I had the Baptism; but I wasn't satisfied, feeling that I had somehow done the speaking - that the Holy Spirit wasn't my entire motivation. Sometime later in private devotions early one morning the Holy Spirit was quietly present and I spoke the syllables as He gave utterance. Not only did He give the utterance, but He also gave the interpretation. The word meant "Heavenly Father." That's all there was that morning - just one little word and its meaning. I wasn't overcome with joy at the time. In fact, I was a little disappointed, having expected so much and having heard and read so many glowing and dynamic testimonies. My experience wasn't like that at all.

I continued thus for some time. Still  I didn't think  I had the  fullness of  this  experience  because  I didn't have a complete vocabulary in another language. But again it was the Word of God that confirmed the experience and made me rejoice, for I finally realized that all the Bible says is: ". . . they spoke as the Spirit gave utterance." It doesn't say how long they spoke, or how many words. Suddenly I realized the Spirit had given me the utterance and I had spoken, and now the promise was mine! The Word is true! The experience is real! And  I can testify it is also true that  "ye shall receive power  after  that  the  Holy  Ghost  is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me."

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