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Total Surrender: Finding Messiah at an Italian Pentecostal Church, an interview with Michael Brown Did the church play a part in you coming to Christ?

From the day of my first visit, they began to pray for me. —Michael Brown

Michael Brown: Yes, the church played a massive role in my salvation. First, from the day of my first visit, they began to pray for me. I was told years later they prayed for me at prayer meetings, at their homes, in services. On my end, I had no idea they were praying, but I started to get convicted of my sin. Before that, I had boasted about it!

Then, when I came to faith in November-December, they put up with my foolish ways, they answered my questions, and they set an example of simple yet very serious devotion. What was a typical service like?

Michael Brown: Normally, we would start the service standing and sing one hymn, then sit down and sing two more. We would have a time for testimonies and prayer requests, the offering would be taken, and we might go into spontaneous worship after that. Otherwise, after the offering, the pastor would preach, and then we would all spend time at the altar seeking the Lord.

On a typical week, there was Sunday school, Sunday service, Monday night prayer meeting, and then services Tuesday and Friday night. Once we bought a new building on Long Island, where most of our people lived (the first building was in Queens, New York), we added a Wednesday night service, then a Sunday night service.

I went to every service without fail, as did most of my friends and a solid core of the adults. We would do evangelism one or more times a week, plus have a monthly, 24-hour prayer chain, where we would sign up for two-hour slots.

This was not how it started for me, however. I didn’t attend Sunday morning for a number of weeks after I was born again. First, as a Jew, Sunday morning had no significance to me. Second, because I came to faith in a night service, that was what was normal for me. I remember being surprised the first Sunday morning I attended to find many people I had never seen before, probably about twice the number who attended the other services. (The prayer meeting had the smallest attendance, as is customary.)

Interestingly, for a season, once a month, we changed the Monday night prayer meeting to an Italian service, since we had a number of congregants who never learned English. Along with my friends, I attended the Italian services too, as crazy as it sounds today, not understanding a word of the sermon. But in our minds, if the building was open, we would be there. Was there anyone in the church who took a particular interest in you or mentored you?

The Lord’s grace has never failed me! —Michael Brown

Michael Brown: It would be misleading to say I was mentored, but the pastor’s brother, who drove me to church services in the early days, was a great example to me and was always there to answer my questions. The pastor himself definitely saw God’s call on me and he also spoke into my life in key ways at key times.

I am deeply indebted to these precious men, one of whom is with the Lord.

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Category: Fall 2019, Living the Faith

About the Author: Michael L. Brown, Ph.D. (New York University), is founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in North Carolina, Director of the Coalition of Conscience, and host of the daily, nationally, syndicated talk radio show, The Line of Fire, as well as the host of the apologetics TV show, Answering Your Toughest Questions, which airs on the NRB TV network. He is the author of more than 30 books including Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the “Church” and the Jewish People (1992), Playing With Holy Fire: A Wake-Up Call to the Pentecostal-Charismatic Church (2018), Israel’s Divine Healer (1995), Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation (2017), Breaking the Stronghold of Food: How We Conquered Food Addictions and Discovered a New Way of Living with Nancy Brown (2017), Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur's Strange Fire (2015), and the highly-acclaimed five-volume series, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. Read full biography at AskDrBrown Ministries. Google+. Twitter: @DrMichaelLBrown

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