Pentecost: And marvels blessedly continue to come


Guest Column
By Olivia McNeely Pass

On the Gulf Coast, Aug. 29 was much like the day of Pentecost.

People’s lives in both cases — the Pentecost and Hurricane Katrina — were radically and abruptly changed: “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting” (Act. 2:2). Winds of change came in both cases, transforming lives in marvelous ways.

According to the King James Study Bible, on the day of Pentecost God’s two symbols of the Spirit’s presence were the wind, associated by the Jews with the spirit, and the fiery tongues, which divided and rested upon each individual, demonstrating that all were included in the spirit’s baptism. The gift of tongues was to seize the attention of all, so they would listen — and the hearers were foreign-born inhabitants.

Those of us on the coast, as well as the thousands of faith-based, “foreign-born” people who have come to help us here, have certainly been radically transformed in the past nine months.

The apostles were “filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2: 4). So, too, our coast churches, as well as churches from all over the nation, have been filled.

Moved by the devastation, people from Indiana, Wisconsin, Arkansas, New York City, etc, (“devout men, out of every nation under heaven” Acts 2:5) have come to Biloxi in order to help others to whom they had never talked, helping them rebuild their homes and their lives. They came, “speak[ing] with other tongues,” but learning to say “Baluksi” and “y’all” — speaking the “language” of the area, but most importantly, “giving utterance to their faith in God.” They came from many denominations, nurturing strangers. Those who came here and Coastal residents were most assuredly speaking one language — the language of the Spirit, communicating love to one another.

Now, for nine long months, thousands have been so moved, driving many, many miles in cars, RV’s and caravans; flying on planes; arriving on trains — all “filled with the Holy Ghost.” Coast residents, too, whether experiencing partial or total devastation of their property from Katrina, looked about themselves and were also filled with God’s spirit, reaching out to one another as well,

“And they were all amazed and marveled” (Acts 2: 7). 

Marvels still blessedly continue, created from the winds of the Holy Spirit and the flames of Pentecost.

Pass is a member of Biloxi First United Methodist Church.