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Experiencing Life in the Spirit: an interview with Frank Billman speaks with Christian historian and renewalist, Frank Billman, about John Wesley, the Methodist Church, and the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit today. You have written a book called The Supernatural Thread in Methodism. Please tell our readers a little bit about the book.

Frank Billman: I have always had an interest in history, especially church history. And when I took the Methodist history course required for United Methodist ordination at a United Methodist seminary, I really enjoyed the course. The course was taught by the author of the textbook we used, a well-known Methodist historian. However, sometime after seminary graduation I began to read some other books and articles that highlighted supernatural elements of our Methodist history that I never learned about in seminary—like John Wesley praying for healing and casting out demons, and experiencing angelic encounters, and even raising a man from the dead. Wesley taught that all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Bible (including speaking in tongues) are valid for today. Methodists rested in the Spirit, and experienced trances and visions and dreams. The power of God would show up in Methodist preaching services, love feasts, communion services, camp meetings, even annual conference sessions. This supernatural history is not only the heritage of United Methodists, but all the denominations today that trace their history back to John Wesley and the Methodists.

So as I would share in various settings about what I found in our history I was encouraged to gather my findings together in a book. It was published by Creation House Press, a publishing arm of Charisma Magazine. Charisma Media shut down that part of their publishing business so the book has gone out of print. (Aldersgate Renewal Ministries still has some copies and I have some.) I am in the process of revising and updating the book with some additional chapters and I need to connect with a new publisher. How did you personally come into the charismatic experience of the Spirit?

Frank Billman: I grew up in the Methodist Church. My parents and grandparents were Methodists. I gave my life to Christ at a Lay Witness Mission that came to our Methodist church in Philadelphia when I was in high school. Although this event was not about the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit was very much a part of that weekend. It was during that weekend that I first heard people speak in tongues.

When I went to college I got involved with a Catholic Charismatic prayer group. Although the majority of those in this group were Catholic there were also a number of us Protestants from various denominations. That group prayed for me to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and shortly thereafter I began to speak in tongues. In my college and seminary years I was involved with a number of different charismatic groups. And when I graduated from seminary and began pastoring a local United Methodist church I knew I would have to find some like-minded Spirit-filled United Methodists if I was going to survive.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2018

About the Author: Frank H. Billman, B.A. (Houghton College), M.Div. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Th.M. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), D.Min. (Eastern Baptist [now Palmer] Theological Seminary), is an educator, pastor, author, and international speaker. He is currently leading the doctor of ministry program in supernatural ministry at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. While on the staff of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries for 12 years, he led workshops, local and regional renewal events, was supervisor for International Ministries, Methodist School of Supernatural Ministries, and Supernatural Ministry Intensives, and was a general session speaker at the national conferences. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of Shepherding Renewal (Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, 2011), and The Supernatural Thread in Methodism: Signs and Wonders Among Methodists Then and Now (Creation House, 2013).

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