home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > February 4th > The Surprising Places Moments & People Where When & Who The Holy Spirit Suddenly Transforms

The road to where he was going was hot and dusty. His mind was racing over what he had just seen. Never in his life had he witnessed anything like it. He knew this road well. From a young age he had first travelled it going in the other direction when his father had enrolled him into the tutelage of Israel’s leading professor and an expert in Torah Law. He had been taught well. Which was why, as an adult, he was now travelling north from the Holy City to the capital of Syria to track down and imprison — and if necessary — execute the members of this growing band of infidels who were seeking to destroy his beloved religion and to defy the God he had dedicated himself to. But something was troubling him. He had just overseen the execution of one of these renegades in his usual manner. But never had he seen a condemned and bleeding man so in control of a situation; and, never had he seen a man who was surrounded by an angry mob look to so calm so peaceful so confident and so … forgiving. In his final seconds of life he uttered those words. It was those words that had set his mind racing as he travelled with his two companions, each of them on horseback, as they neared Damascus. And then it happened! Boom! Knocked off his horse at the force of it. Blinded by the intensity of the light. And the voice that silenced everything else that spoke simultaneously into his “dream ears” and his “awake ears”. From this booming moment his life was ever changed. Few believed it, least of all those in Damascus who dreaded his arrival. But it was real. And it was but the first of a series of dramatic transformations wrought by the ‘boom’ of the Holy Spirit. And this ‘holy boom’ continues to surprise, in surprising places, at surprising moments, and with the most surprising choice of people!  

And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
¶ And Saul approved of his execution.
¶ And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
Acts 7:60-8:3



When Saul began his murderous rampage against the Christ-followers, some of these believers began to pray for Saul to be blessed and to come to know Christ as Saviour, as Jesus had commanded His followers to do (Matt. 5:44). I wonder how many Victorian Christians are praying now in a similar way for Premier Dan Andrews? I wonder how many Tasmanian believers pray like this for that person who annoys them? Behind the ‘boom’ that the Saul of Tarsus encountered was a band of unnamed believers who were praying for him.

¶ But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.
Acts 9:1-3

We Christians have good reason for thinking that people’s conversion journey is often a step-by-step pathway leading to that divine appointment of new birth; but, we also need to recognise that the Holy Spirit can also ‘boom’ convert someone without this step-by-step process. This is evidenced by those people who once regarded God, spirituality, and especially Christianity, as nonsense or perhaps irrelevant, or maybe even something worse — then seemingly in a ‘boom moment’ of Holy Spirit transformation they are instantly converted to being passionate lovers of God, His Word, His people, and His Cause! Saul of Tarsus appears to be such an example but he is by no means the only one. This past week I heard two other similar testimonies of people who were suddenly converted to Christ. A few months ago I heard the remarkable testimony of Becket Cook who even used the word “boom” to describe his experience with the Holy Spirit when he was suddenly converted to Christ (I recommend subscribing to his Youtube channel).

And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing.
So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
¶ Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias.
The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
And the Lord said to him,
“Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight.
Then he rose and was baptized;  and taking food, he was strengthened.
¶ For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”
Acts 9:4-20


We can each be among the unnamed believers behind the Holy Spirit ‘booms’ that could take place right around Tasmania among those who currently give no thought to God, His Word, His Church, His Cause. As we pray and intercede on behalf of these hardened, indifferent, pre-believers, that Holy Spirit continues to do what He does often in a way that we cannot see. But when the boom takes place it was as Jesus told Nicodemus-

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound,
but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.
So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8

Your Pastor,


Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.


  1. Blair

    I am of the opinion that one doesn’t just believe by reason, it’s always the work of the Holy Spirit that brings about conversion

      • Vanessa Dunkley

        Thanks Andrew for this week’s encouraging Pastor’s desk. I loved your positive words of “pre-believer” rather than “non-believer”. I feel it definitely helps to think these words when praying for loved ones that over the decades seem no closer to saying “yes” to Jesus.

    • Vanessa Dunkley

      Thanks Andrew for this week’s encouraging Pastor’s desk. I loved your positive words of “pre-believer” rather than “non-believer”. I feel it definitely helps to think these words when praying for loved ones that over the decades seem no closer to saying “yes” to Jesus.

  2. LYDIA

    Becket Cook. I’d read it before some time back, so thank you for refreshing my memory Andrew. Throughout our lives I would imagine that we either know or get to know of young men and women who for what ever reason decide that they are not in their right body. It could even be closer to home where family members might be lesbians or homosexuals. What springs to mind here is that we love the person not the pathway they are on. It is also a fact that those who have gone to church, gone to Christian schools and know or knew their Bible have lost their way into this lifestyle. Off hand I know of three.
    But now we come to what it is that many of us see every single day, the transformation of how God intended it in Genesis, of man and woman. TV these days is rampart with the ‘new’ – nothing NEW under the sun – way to accept all gender and cross gender varieties which needs some medical intervention to change a physical body in some cases.
    Seriously each is born either male or female. Yet, it is how these dear little ones are brought up or what they are taught, or what they see or read or hear or experience. The text comes to mind Matthew 18:6…that if anyone were to hurt these little ones then it would be better for a millstone to be put around their neck. Jesus was not thrilled one bit to have little children hurt physically or spiritually.
    It seems today that the attack is out to destroy not only the family but also the family structure till it takes pathways that make no sense. All these poor lost souls who truly believe its OK to be ‘gay’ were once small babies, tiny little children who were formed, shaped, influenced, hurt or confused and over time believed the father of all lies.
    Like all conversions it takes the miracle of the Spirit to change a heart, any heart.
    Often I have used the analogy that, one little toe nail over the line is one little toe nail over the line. In other words every person sins and every person needs forgiveness in Christ.
    So we praise the Father and the Son and the Spirit. We pray for those who need prayer. I’m glad our church does this weekly! and very graciously, which should encourage us to follow suit. With that mighty work of the Spirit moving Becket Cook and I am sure countless others, He can do and He will do it! Nothing will stop Him!


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Domestic violence, sexual assault, date-rape, sexual trafficking of minors, marital infidelity, street-gang violence, illicit drug abuse, high rates of suicide, increased ‘deaths of despair’, homelessness, are all major problems in our culture right now. Governments regard these issues as matters of justice (punishing offenders) while agencies regard these issues as matters of social justice (helping victims). Both are valuable but neither are equipped or positioned unilaterally to solve the causes of these growing problems, and many in both of these sectors believe that it can mever be solved. But I believe they can be. And I need your help. To achieve this, I propose two outrageous, yea – ridiculous – strategies. They are outrageous because they are simple (although not easy); and, they are ridiculous because, to materialists, these are just fanciful, idealistic and supernatural nonsense. However, I have history on my side. It will involve men and women, young and old. But I particularly need all men to read what I am about to propose and for them to share this with other men and together with everyone else help me to bring about the biggest social and cultural revolution our country has ever seen.


Perhaps I was a little unfair to this gentleman though, because it is a well established fact that all men are born with selective hearing (as every wife can testify to) and perhaps this may sometimes spill over into incidents such as the one I just recounted(?). But I also suspect that some women have a similar deficiency.

A few years ago the kids and I were a little concerned about Kim’s hearing difficulties. As it turned out, one day outside a shopping centre that we had just arrived at, there was a government sponsored mobile hearing clinic. We urged the reluctant Kim to go in and have her hearing checked. Much to the utter shock of myself and our children the clinician told Kim that she had “perfect hearing”! This then proved that even women may be able to imitate the innate ability of a man to produce selective hearing 🙂 Therefore, there is a high likelihood that both men and women are equally subject to hearing difficulties.

The problem with any hearing difficulties is that it inevitably leads to the far more serious problem of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is at the heart of nearly every relationship problem that anyone will ever face. Misunderstandings due to mis-hearing or mis-communication frequently leads to disputes that if not handled correctly, which it is mostly not, is likely to lead to relationship breakdowns. But there is a different – almost secretive – way to deal with misunderstandings. Let me explain by using several pictures that will make my point. 


Mark Lowry is normally comedic. But his now classic Christmas song is no joke! It presents baby Jesus as the eternal God the Son, the creator of heaven and earth, the Saviour of the world, the Redeemer of all humankind who turn to Him, the all-conquering Lamb of God, and the Great Judge of all people, the I AM. The event of His miraculous conception is known as the incarnation (God becoming human). But the incarnation was not Jesus the Christ’s first entrance into our world. In fact, it is as though He felt a divine right to enter our world any time He chose. These various appearances of Jesus prior to His incarnation are referred to as theophanies (appearances of God) or more particularly as Christophanies (appearances of God the Son). I want to highlight one of these in particular…


We have all seen parents abruptly terminate conversations with other adults to keep an eye on their children. Children can wander about easily. They could get involved in acts that are detrimental to themselves. Parental instincts, often reflected more in the mother, is one of those protective gifts that ensures children are kept safe.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 6 – The deGorified Newborn The ReGlorified Lamb of God

One of my favourite stories of concealed identity hiding in plain sight is from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Miserables, where the escaped convict, Jean Valjean, is pursued for years by now retired Inspector Javert. As it turns out Jean Valjean, who had changed his name to M. Madeleine has now become a successful business man and the Mayor of Toulon. Javert arrives in Toulon and is immediately recognised by Valjean. But Javert does not recognise the now clean-shaven, genteel aristocratic Mayor of Toulon as his nemesis. But when he observes the compassion of M. Madeleine he recalls the time in prison when Jean Valjean had also displayed a similar extraordinary compassion for unfortunate fellow prisoners. The more he observed such acts of kindness and generosity from M. Madeleine the more Javert became convinced of the true identity of Madeleine. There is something about this idea of concealed identity that comes from the story of Christ. The prophet Isaiah foretold that when the Servant of the LORD would appear He would be largely unrecognised – there would be no form, no beauty, that we would desire Him (Isa. 53:2). But how on earth was this possible? How in God’s Name  could those who were created by Him in His image not recognise Him for who He was? The answer to this great puzzle lies in one word: the kenosis.


Andrew, on occasions, used to wistfully say, “You know, all I really want is…” then he would say some ephemeral pleasure, like ‘a drink of coke’, or ‘quiet’, or ‘to get something finished’. So, one day I decided to ensure that his greatest desire (‘all I really want’) was met. This time all he ever wanted was a coffee, so I bounced up and brought him the best cup of coffee I could make and added a little yummy treat to compliment it. A few days later he once again said, “All I really want…” and I interrupted to finish his sentence for him … “was the cup of coffee that I was able to make for you the other day. I bet it was the best ever. I’m so glad I could meet that greatest desire you have.” He never said, ‘All I really want’ again!


THE LORDSHIP of JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 5 – He is the Creator of Heaven & Earth and all things Visible and Invisible
While the pagan religions in the days of the patriarchs, judges, and kings of Israel, all conceived of their gods as territorial, the God of Israel, Yeshua, declared that He was the Creator of all things and that He was Lord of Heaven and Earth. And He still is.

Freedom in Christ encompasses Freedom FROM and Freedom FOR

God offers freedom to those who turn to Him in faith, and this, as Pastor Andrew says, deserves a Toyota jump. It is worth celebrating. The freedom the New Testament speaks of is not just any old freedom. In Romans 8:21 Paul speaks of ‘the glorious freedom of God’s children’ (NET). In the same way you might savour a piece of chocolate as it slowly melts in your mouth, allow your spirit to savour the meaning of the freedom that is yours in Christ in all its richness. This single word freedom is densely packed with meaning, and we benefit from taking time to unpack just a little of what it means for believers.


Throughout the Old Testament, God made certain promises to the patriarchs (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob/Israel) that their descendants, the nation of Israel, longed to see fulfilled. These promises centred on having a holy Homeland and a Messiah. Over the centuries that followed their expulsion from their Land which sent them into exile into Babylon initially and then into Persia, the Israelites became known as Jews. Their expectations of how these divine promises would be fulfilled became greatly embellished with powerful military overtones.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 3 – Before He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal LBefore He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal Lordord

For those unfamiliar with the story of the Bible who may be seeking to remedy that unfamiliarity, I would recommend that they start reading in the New Testament. It is there that they will be introduced immediately to Jesus who is the central character of the whole Bible. For many novice readers of the Bible who then attempt to read the Old Testament of the Bible (its first 39 books), it initially seems like they are reading a completely unrelated story which seems to describe a completely different God. But with a little patience and persistence the reader will begin to suspect that this is not a different story but is in fact the prequel to the New Testament. Then a strange supernatural thing happens as they continue to become acquainted with the lives of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, as these characters interact with enemies, giants, angels, strange heavenly beings, and GOD Himself. The reader begins to see in a similar way to what a photographer could not previously see clearly until his camera’s focus was adjusted to make the picture clear — the GOD who created, acted, spoke and judged, frequently referred to Himself as ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’, and at times seemed to have conversations with divine characters identified as ‘the LORD’ and ‘Me’ and ‘His Spirit’ (Isa. 48:16). And this all begins to sound very reminiscent of the GOD described in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With a growing knowledge of the Bible and hunger to understand it, the follower of Christ discovers that literally for thousands of years prior to this day there have been many many others who have also walked the journey of discovery through the mysterious pages of the Bible and have each made a startling discovery about the human Jesus’ pre-existence throughout the pages of the Old Testament.