ALBUQUERQUE, NM – As the remains of their church building lay smoldering before their eyes, the members of New Life Assembly of God were left to wonder what happened. One minute they were celebrating in various tongues, and the next they were scrambling out of the building. One minute they were filled with the Spirit, the next they were filled with smoke. What caused all this?
It all goes back to trying to have more authentic worship. Pastor Kevin Wells said, “More than anything else, we want to be a New Testament church. We are always inspired when we read Acts chapter two. Verses 2-4 say, ‘And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.’ We take these as our marching orders.”
A look at the last few months may explain what happened. Assistant Pastor Vernon Wallace told TBNN, “Every time we meet we speak in tongues. After all, this is a sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Despite this, our services seemed to be lacking something. We still had the sermon, singing, dancing, falling down, spasms, and scripture reading, but there was definitely something missing. That’s when Pastor Wells decided to do a sermon series on Acts chapter two.
Member Debbie Lawson said, “The pastor just kept hammering Acts two, especially the tongues of fire. He said that if we were a real New Testament church, tongues of fire would show up in our services. We all hoped and prayed that this would happen. However, week after week, despite all we did, there was no fire.”
TBNN has learned from the local police department that Pastor Wells decided to take things into his own hands. Although the details are not complete, it appears that Pastor Wells set up two small, portable fire places inside the New Life Assembly of God sanctuary. After he began preaching, the congregation began its weekly speaking in tongues. As this happened, the pastor lit two fires. The crowd was very pleased.
Unfortunately, sparks from the fires jumped onto the carpet. After smoldering for a few minutes, real flames began to spread around the worship center. At first, the congregation was excited because they thought God was moving amongst them. However, when the church’s sprinkler system failed to start, the entire sanctuary began to go up in flames.
After a few minutes, the people realized that these tongues of fire were not spiritual, but physical. Within fifteen minutes of their escape, the body watched as their entire church building fell to the ground.
“We learned a lesson today,” said Pastor Wells. “When you speak in tongues, you play with fire.”