Ern Baxter - An Autobiographical Sketch.
A number of people have emailed me asking me a little bit more about Ern Baxter's life history - with special interest in how he developed such a passion for Word and Spirit. There is a great need for a biography of Ern I think, especially now one is available for Derek Prince (which I highly recommend by the way). The best source for Ern's history came from Ern himself. This is largely available in the book, "Life on Wings" that I transcribed - a series of interviews with Ern. His calling and conversion formed the first part of the interviews. They are available here - kindly hosted by my friend Mark. Ern wrote another book before his death entitled "The Chief Shepherd and His Sheep" which is largely to do with shepherding. But it does have a short autobiography at the beginning. It is available on Amazon used books every now and then. Here is a short extract concerning a powerful experience he had at a conference (yes ... a CONFERENCE!)
"The Trossachs Experience.
Not long after, a man who was to have a lifelong experience on me came into our city. He was a well to do farmer who had sold all of his possessions and had begun pouring the proceeds into the gospel by travelling around and planting churches. I had become deeply involved in music and my father embarressed me one night by suggesting that I play the piano and sing for this man. Such a request was uncharacteristic of my father, yet God used it to begin a new phase in my life. When the minister heard my performance he invited me to travel with him in his ministry. Having already dedicated myself to the Lord's service, I found the decision easy to make. I left with him immediately.
We soon arrived in Western Canada at Trossachs, a small country town named after a beautiful area in Scotland. Every year, a large Bible conference was held near Troassachs and this conference had become a vital place of ministry. Here, at 3:40am in the morning on July 2nd 1932 I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. While I did not understand this experience doctrinally, I did know that it was real like nothing I had ever before experienced.
The conference was a unique combination of excellent classical Bible teaching and the fulness of the Holy Spirit. The people who attended had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and sang with enthusiastic joy. They were indeed pentecostal but not in the denominational sense or doctrinal sense. At the same time, they were devoted to the Word. This emphasis on the Word balanced with an emphasis on the charismatic experience was a rare combination in those days".
If this interest in Ern's history continues, I can continue to transribe some more of that detail. I find that history HUGELY exciting for several reasons.
1. Small groups are key in the purposes of God. Sometimes our expectation of God's "breaking out" into our history is often based on larger meetings - say the Sunday meetings of our churches or even bigger conferences. Ern's call into this first form of ministry was based on him playing for a visitor. "We entertain angels unawares". I went to my church cell group last night and was blessed beyond words. The cell leader's wife who doesn't know me deeply brought a picture from the Spirit for me that was spot on. She took a step of faith and encouraged me deeply in where I am going at present. Let's never despise the small group! We never know what may happen!
2. Even then, Ern was ready for a "Sovereign Surprise". I don't think you can ever be too old or too young for God to break into your life with a "Now" word. Youth must not be despised neither must maturity. The question is not how old you are - but are you ready for God? Furthermore we see here how key it was that Ern Baxter carried a "Pioneering" spirit. This man could have invited him - and he could have come up with all kinds of questions. I find that statement, "I left immediately" somewhat remincent of the apostles being called. They laid down their nets and went with the Lord.
3. Conferences are absolutely vital. I have been criticised recently by our angry anonymous questioner for being a "conference hopper" - for bounding from one conference to the next and despising the local church. While he or she is vastly wrong, I can understand why they have made this mistake. I love conferences hence I talk about them a lot. Conferences - especially the Anglia Bible Week and Stoneleigh Bible Week - have played a hugely important role in my life, and I know others. I don't actually think that there is anything wrong with this whatsoever. God speaks of "Holy Convocations" in the Bible - times where His people come away for times of special blessing and comission. And here we see it in the life of Ern. He has talked in other places of his baptism of the Spirit and it is amazing to hear. It was the fact that he was at the Trossachs conference that enabled him to be up till 3:40am seeking God. I will never stop loving conferences. But indeed they happen for a reason and they are not the local expression of God's glorious church - yep I said it again. What number is that?!