Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 22 February 2015
For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org
Hunger Tested (Azusa Series 01)
In 2006, in the city of Los Angeles, revival broke out – one of the greatest revival the world has ever seen, certainly judging by its influence:
“Pentecostal Movement Celebrates Humble Roots” by Marshall Allen (Religion News Service – Saturday, April 15, 2006): Today, there are about 600 million Pentecostal and charismatic Christians whose roots are in the Azusa Street revival. They make up the fastest-growing segment of Christianity, thriving especially in the Southern Hemisphere, with their beliefs having an impact on nearly every Christian denomination.
Pastor William Seymour and the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles published thirteen newsletters –The Apostolic Faith (1906-1908) – and I quote from these original sources which are available for one dollar at Amazon Kindle as The Azusa Papers (http://www.amazon.com/Azusa-Papers-William-Seymour-ebook/dp/B00KE91YIY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1424129291&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Azusa+Papers).
The Apostolic Faith, Volume 1. Number 3: The news has spread far and wide that Los Angeles is being visited with a “rushing mighty wind from heaven.” The how and why of it is to be found in the very opposite of those conditions that are usually thought necessary for a big revival. No instruments of music are used, none are needed. No choir—but bands of angels have been heard by some in the spirit and there is a heavenly singing that is inspired by the Holy Ghost. No collections are taken. No bills have been posted to advertise the meetings. No church or organization is back of it. All who are in touch with God realize as soon as they enter the meetings that the Holy Ghost is the leader. One brother stated that even before his train entered the city, he felt the power of the revival.
Travelers from afar wend their way to the headquarters at Azusa Street. As they enquire their way to the Apostolic Faith Mission, perhaps they are asked, “O, you mean the Holy Rollers,” or “It is the Colored Church you mean?” In the vicinity of a tombstone shop, stables and lumber yard (a fortunate vicinity because no one complains of all-night meetings) you find a two-story, white-washed old building. You would hardly expect heavenly visitations there, unless you remember the stable at Bethlehem.
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But here you find a mighty Pentecostal revival going on from ten o’clock in the morning till about twelve at night. Yes, Pentecost has come to hundreds of hearts and many homes are made into a sweet paradise below …
A leading Methodist layman of Los Angeles says, “Scenes transpiring here are what Los Angeles churches have been praying for years … I bless God that it did not start in any church in this city, but in a barn, so that we might all come and take part in it. If it had started in a fine church, poor colored people and Spanish people would not have got it, but praise God it started here …”
As soon as it is announced that the altar is open for seekers for pardon, sanctification, the baptism with the Holy Ghost and healing of the body, the people rise and flock to the altar. There is no urging. What kind of preaching is it that brings them? Why, the simple declaring of the Word of God. There is such power in the preaching of the Word in the Spirit that people are shaken on the benches. Coming to the altar, many fall prostrate under the power of God, and often come out speaking in tongues. Sometimes the power falls on people and they are wrought upon by the Spirit during testimony or preaching and receive Bible experiences.
The testimony meetings which precede the preaching often continue for two hours or more and people are standing waiting to testify all the time. Those who have received the baptism with the Holy Ghost testify that they had a clear evidence of sanctification first. Hundreds testify that they received the Bible evidence of speaking in a new tongue that they never knew before …
The demonstrations are not the shouting, clapping or jumping so often seen in camp meetings. There is a shaking such as the early Quakers had and which the old Methodists called the “jerks.” It is while under the power of the Spirit you see the hands raised and hear speaking in tongues. While one sings a song learned from heaven with a shining face, the tears will be trickling down other faces. Many receive the Spirit through the laying on of hands, as they did through Paul at Ephesus.
Little children from eight years to twelve stand up on the altar bench and testify to the baptism with the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues …
It is noticeable how free all nationalities feel. If a Mexican or German cannot speak English, he gets up and speaks in his own tongue and feels quite at home for the Spirit interprets through the face and people say amen. No instrument that God can use is rejected on account of color or dress or lack of education. This is why God has so built up the work.
In the testimony meetings, they report from cottage prayer meetings where perhaps a number were baptized with the Holy Ghost or saved or sanctified and those who have been seeking at home report what God has done for them …
Seekers for healing are usually taken upstairs and prayed for in the prayer room and many have been healed there. There is a larger room upstairs that is used for Bible study. A brother fittingly describes it in this way, “Upstairs is a long room, furnished with chairs and three California redwood planks, laid end to end on backless chairs. This is the Pentecostal upper room where sanctified souls seek Pentecostal fullness and go out speaking in new tongues.”
The sweetest thing of all is the loving harmony. Every church where this has gone is like a part of the family …
The Lord is saving drunkards and taking the appetite for liquor and tobacco completely away.
Reports come from Denver that forty souls have received the Pentecost and are speaking in tongues.
A young man saved from the morphine habit has no more desire for the stuff and gave up his instruments …
“Cartoons in the newspapers were my first introduction to this meeting,” said a brother, “and I said, this is what I have been praying for, for years. I was warned by leaders that it was of the devil, but I came and got a touch of heaven in my soul.” …
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, 5% ebook: Third, “Azusa Street” rightfully continues to function as the primary icon expressing the power of the worldwide Pentecostal movement. A common “story” or “myth” (that is an animating narrative—not necessarily something fictional or untrue) motivates all successful movements.
The revival was so powerful that it changed the meaning of what it means to be “pentecostal”: Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, 10% eBook: Like the term “Pentecostal,” the phrase “Spirit-filled” was language commonly used to denote teachers who were part of the holiness movement. Later Pentecostals would appropriate the term “Pentecostal” for themselves, filling it with new meaning to identify those who believed that they had received the same baptism in the Spirit that the believers had received on the day of Pentecost that is described in Acts 2. Similarly, they would appropriate the term “Spirit-filled” to indicate those people who had received what they understood to be the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the biblical evidence of speaking in other tongues. Eventually, holiness people would release their grip on these terms in their desire to distance themselves from tongues-speaking, “Spirit-filled” Pentecostals. One powerful example of this eventually came when in frustration the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, which rejected the link between speaking in tongues and baptism in the Spirit, dropped the designation “Pentecostal” from its name in 1919 to become simply the Church of the Nazarene"
"The words such as “Pentecostal” and “Spirit-filled” were commonly used within the Wesleyan holiness movement and referred to the doctrine of sanctification.
Could the story of the Azusa Street Revival also motivate us here at Living Grace? I think so. This revival proves that God can do anything with anyone if they are only willing: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). / “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
The people of the Azusa Street Revival had nothing – no money, no influence, no marketing, no connections, no “learned” preaching (the pastors was a one-eyed black preacher [William Seymour], a one-time waiter, a son of former slaves, with little education – not a single one of his sermons survived in its entirety [compare with Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Finney, Spurgeon]), no building for large crowds. If God can pour out his Spirit on these people where they are and touch the world through them, he can do it anywhere, including among us.
Do you know that their building – a primitive construction which had been used as a stable – measured only 18.2 x 12 metres (218.4 square metres) which means that the inside of the building was smaller than our auditorium (our size is about 25 x 15 metres, 375 square metres)? We are big enough. Then, the core of the revival – the people around William Seymour – never numbered more than what we have here at Living Grace:
Mark Hutchinson (http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ark/weird-babel-of-tongues/3343862#transcript, accessed 5 February 2015): The actual core group of Azusa Street actually only varied between 50 to 200 people, depending upon which estimates you read, but thousands of people, in fact by the end of 1913 when the revival begins to peter out, tens of thousands of people had been through or been touched by or contacted by people who’d come to Azusa Street in a sense to share in the empowering. And people like William Durham went back to Chicago, and out of the Chicago work emerged one of the first Italian Pentecostal churches which then sent people back to Italy and South America. There are millions of people in those works today, and it was typical that people, having an encounter with God and an experience of the spirit would then jump on a boat and want to go and do God's work which was to preach the Gospel to the four corners of the earth. And so it spread very, very rapidly.
This excited me. Everything that we need is already here, including the Holy Spirit. Everything that happens in a revival is already happening among us (healings, infillings with the Spirit, the release of spiritual gifts, inner healing, being filled with joy, repentance and salvation and a passion for doing God’s will) except that in a revival more people catch the move of the Spirit at the same time. [More can be said here (such as that the revivals in Azusa Street and Toronto and the Reformation also came with new revelations and breakthroughs in gifting) but for now the basic definition below is sufficient.]
According to Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “Revival is nothing but a large number of people being baptized with the Holy Spirit [or experiencing testimonies of God’s salvation, healing and power] at the same time” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Joy Unspeakable, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications 1984, p189-190):
[Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Joy Unspeakable, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications 1984, p51: The difference between the baptism of the Holy Spirit and a revival is simply one of the number of people affected. I would define a revival as a large number, a group of people, being baptized by the Holy Spirit at the same time; or the Holy Spirit falling upon, coming upon a number of people assembled together. It can happen in a district, it can happen in a country.]
When revival broke out at Toronto in 1994, Pastor John Arnott told his daughter Lori: “Honey, we are having the revival of my dreams. It is happening. I need you to get up here as quickly as you can.” And so she came – actually moved back home from Texas because of it. Here are Lori’s own words (transcript from the 20th anniversary celebration in Toronto in 2014): “My Dad called me – maybe day two – and he told me what was happening and because of my experience at Kathryn Kuhlmann meetings as a little girl, he taught me the value of the anointing and to understand the presence of the Holy Spirit and for him to say to me: ‘Honey, you need to come because the revival that I have prayed for all of my life is happening in my church.’ I think that I might be the only person on the planet who never had to doubt the sincerity of that comment because I know my Dad and he would never ever – ever – exaggerate and say that if it wasn’t true. And what I said to him was: ‘Dad, but how is it different?’ And he knew what that meant and he said: ‘Honey, it’s the same – it’s just everybody.’”
Reading the Azusa Street Newsletter (“The Apostolic Faith”), I was also struck by the modesty of their outreach success. It’s not as if they travelled and thousands were baptized with the Spirit. The movement seemed to spread by touching a few here and a few there and these people then carried the message and outpouring of the Spirit to other places – until the multiplication of small numbers was enormous:
The Azusa Papers: [In the last eight months,] hundreds have been baptized with the Holy Ghost. Many of them are now out in the field, and some in foreign lands …
322 Brown Ave., McKeesport, Pa., Feb. 8.  – The Holy Ghost has fallen on about a dozen here and they are speaking in tongues and we do not know where the work will stop. There have been two received their call to China. We praise God for His wonderful grace and power. --S.F. Black.
In Mobile – Davis Ave. and Ann St., Mobile, Ala., Feb. 1. —After a hard battle in this wicked place, the Lord gave me a tent in answer to prayer. We give God all the glory for victory. Five have been sanctified and three received Pentecost. One brother that has been crippled for years has been healed in his foot and can walk without a stick, and we are expecting a great work of the Lord here soon. --F.W. Williams.
In Spokane – Spokane, Wash., Mar. 21. Thank God, the work of the Holy Spirit is reaching into the remotest places of the earth. Upwards of thirty have received their Pentecost right here in Spokane in the past few days, speaking in tongues, writing, and praising God in all things. The Apostolic Light will be somewhat delayed, owing to my removal from Portland office to the work to which God called me in Spokane. --M.L. Ryan.
In Burgess, S.C. – Burgess, S.C. March 16. –We are having a wonderful meeting in our midst. Several are being baptized with the Holy Ghost. The people are coming by crowds and God’s great work is spreading. Glory to God for this wonderful salvation that is coming back to earth again.” --Mc. D. Brown.
In Santa Cruz, Cal. – Pentecost has fallen in Santa Cruz. The last report from there people were getting saved, sanctified, and baptized with the Holy Ghost, and healed. Many seeking. Brother and Sister T.W. McConnell have been laboring there and Brother Wilkinson has been assisting.
In Long Beach. – The Lord is blessing in Long Beach, Cal. We cannot tell just how many at this date have received their Pentecost and speak in tongues. Hungry souls are seeking. The street meetings are attended by crowds. Last Sunday night, many had to be turned away. Brother McCauley has charge of the work. He says, “The Lord has wonderfully planted the seed of salvation in Long Beach in street meetings every Sunday afternoon. O how I praise Him for the outpouring of His Spirit. A baby that had been sick all its life was wonderfully healed in answer to prayer. Peace be to all the saints in Christ Jesus. Amen.” --E. McCauley, Long Beach, Cal.
In San Jose. – 25 Short Ridge Ave., San Jose, Cal., Mar. 4. – Praise God for victory. Thirteen have received their Pentecost and Bible evidence since we came here Glory to God! The whole place is stirred. Sunday there were eight healed as soon as I anointed them, and they shouted praises to God. Sunday was a hallelujah day all day. Praise God. Sinners are under awful conviction here. The hall is crowded and the people cannot all get in. We are looking for the power to fall as on Pentecost. --Yours in Christ, H. McLain.
Utica, N.Y. – Blessed be the name of the Lord. Truly these days of the “latter rain” are days of Heaven upon the earth. We are a little band here but full of faith and pressing on. One by one, God is bringing our number into their Pentecost, and is opening other places where there are a few hungry believers longing for their inheritance. —Birdsell & Mason, 61 State Street.
[See also reports from Indianapolis, Ind.; Colly, N.C.; Atlanta, Ga.; Hill River, Minn.; Concord Junction, Mass.; Strole, Va.; Portsmouth and Richmond, Va.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Swanton, Ohio; Baltimore, Ohio; Denver, Colo.; Lynn, Mass; Chicago, Ill.; Snowflake, Manitoba; Colorado Springs; …]
England – In the past year, news comes that probably 500 people have received the Pentecost in England.
China – We hear from South China that about 100 have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and they now have a paper in the Chinese called “Pentecostal Truths,” which is being scattered in China and Japan. It is a blessed paper and one can feel the power in it even though unable to read it.
Sweden – The Holy Ghost is falling on the humble in Guttenberg. In one prayer meeting, they saw fire, and four persons were filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke with tongues. They praised God until 5 o’clock in the morning. In a few days, more than twelve persons were baptized with the Holy Ghost and speaking in tongues.
PENTECOST IN AUSTRALIA – The Lord has visited Australia in great power and souls have been baptized with the Holy Ghost and signs following. In a cottage meeting, in February 1907, in Melbourne, a young brother received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and began to speak in tongues. Some fell under the power of God, and a great awe came over the meeting. The brother spoke and sang, giving messages in the unknown tongue and also interpreting.
Does this excite you and stir your hunger? Why shouldn’t it happen here? It’s not as if we didn’t need it – our churches, city and nation. Are we hungry for this – a few people, in a small building, in little Toowoomba, carrying the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to a few people here and there (every Sunday a few, and a few more, and the same in the small places where we go) until the small numbers double and multiply to cover the nation?
Hunger is important and it was important at the outbreak in Azusa Street but, before I share a little more about what happened in 1906, I want to put before us a Bible reading on hunger:
Luke 11:5-13: Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
So I say to you: Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
The basic promise of this Bible reading is clear: Ask and Jesus will give you the Holy Spirit. Ask – seek, knock – be hungry – for the Holy Spirit and Jesus will satisfy your hunger. You will get what you ask for. These are most encouraging verses but they are also confusing. How long do you have to be hungry before Jesus satisfies your hunger? Will your search for more of the Holy Spirit be quick or slow? On the one hand, Jesus says: “Persevere. Keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. Sometimes prayer feels like bothering a friend in the middle of the night for bread. He doesn’t want to get up. He doesn’t want to disturb his kids but you keep banging at his door until you get the bread. Persevere in your hunger for the Spirit.” But, on the other hand, Jesus seems to say: “You will receive easily and quickly. Even human dads – as imperfect as they are – they respond to their children by giving them fish instead of a snake, an egg instead of a scorpion. Of course, they will give them good food – willingly and quickly. Listen, you have a Father in heaven that is so much better than any human dads. Of course, he will give you (what is good and basic) – the Holy Spirit – willingly and quickly.”
So, what is it now? Exercising hunger, does the Father in heaven – through Jesus – give us the Holy Spirit slowly or quickly? I think that the answer is both-and: In response to hunger and prayer, the Holy Spirit comes slowly and quickly. This is how it was at Azusa Street and this is how it is here among us.
In the Bible, it took the twelve core disciples almost three years of personal training with Jesus, surviving the crisis of Jesus’ crucifixion and their betrayal of him and then a ten-day wait before the Holy Spirit was poured out on them. This was a long time – requiring sustained hunger – before the Holy Spirit came but when he came, everything exploded around the disciples quickly with a wildfire of Holy Spirit movement across their city (3000 converts on day 1) which– within a few short years – covered the global Roman Empire. The Holy Spirit was a long time coming but then moved quickly and easily. [The leaders had to get ready.]
Personally, this is also true for many of us. The Holy Spirit comes to us slowly and quickly. Sometimes, there is this extended hunger phase because – like the early disciples – we are getting processed – (humbled, refined and sorted out in our minds) – but when this is done, the Holy Spirit moves immediately – quickly. One day, a rich young man was running toward Jesus – absolutely hungry for more of God. He had been searching for all of his life. Jesus took one look at him and loved him and gave him the key to end his hunger: “‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Mark 10:21). As the Bible tells us, the young man remained hungry as we remain hungry when we cannot let go of what is separating us from God. (And it’s not always money. There is pride and maybe one’s favourite sin and more.) You can remain hungry for a very long time, crying out to Jesus in self-pity or with an attitude, but once we are being sorted, the Holy Spirit can come immediately – quickly. The rich young man would have been with Jesus immediately. [Testimony of Charlie Uebergang.]
Jesus will always give us the Holy Spirit but do not be surprised when he comes both slowly and quickly. William Seymour was hungry for a long time before the revival broke out in 1906:
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: Whatever the reason, from 1903 through 1905 Seymour made Houston his home base. During these years he traveled to Chicago, where he ran into John G. Lake, a minister then working with the holiness healing evangelist and utopian community leader John Alexander Dowie of Zion, Illinois. While staying at a Chicago Hotel, Lake and Seymour talked of spiritual things. According to Lake, Seymour told him that for two and a half years he had been praying for five hours a day because he had such a hunger for God.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: The woman referred to herself as Sister Evans, and said she had been the first [woman] to receive the gift of tongues. It came with the fire of the Holy Ghost after a 10 days fast.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: On Thursday, April 12, after a long evening spent in prayer, William Seymour finally received his baptism in the Spirit, falling on the floor as though dead and then speaking in tongues.
William Seymour’s hunger was tested. He came to Los Angeles to pastor a small holiness church but – soon after his arrival and preaching only a few sermons – found the church padlocked – shutting him out – when he preached his understanding of the Baptism with the Spirit. However, he persevered in his understanding – believing especially in the gift of speaking in tongues – and was preaching his understanding before he had any evidence of this experience in himself or his congregation [however, he knew people (including his teacher Charles Parham) who had already the gift (cf. John Wesley who preached faith before he had it)]. His course was set. He was hungry and would not settle for anything other than what the Bible seemed to promise:
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival,
Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: Thus, the core group at the Asberry home
comprised about fifteen African Americans, including five children. Seymour was
invited to explain once again his position on baptism in the Spirit. Those who
were gathered in the home soon came to accept his teaching and to pray that
they might receive that baptism. To help him minister to these people as he and
they sought to be baptized in the Spirit, Seymour contacted two friends in
Houston, Lucy Farrow and Joseph Warren. He invited them to join him for
meetings at the Asberry home.
As these African American friends waited for Farrow and Warren to arrive, they went about their ordinary duties during the day, gathering in prayer each evening. Others joined them from time to time …
During his breaks in the basement of First National Bank, Edward Lee often prayed. One day he claimed that the apostles Peter and John appeared to him in a vision. As they stood in front of him, “they lifted their hands to heaven and they began to shake under the power of God and began to speak in other tongues.” Edward Lee shook, too, and he didn’t know what was wrong with him. When he returned home, he told Seymour what had happened, claiming, “I know now how people act when they get the Holy Ghost.” That evening, Lee shared his experience with the prayer meeting. And they were encouraged to continue their quest.
Shortly thereafter, Edward Lee believed that he was ready to receive this baptism in the Spirit. At the dinner table, he asked Seymour to lay hands on him. At first Seymour was afraid to do so in light of his understanding of 1 Timothy 5:22, which says, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” Later in the evening he laid his hands on Lee “in Jesus’ name,” and Lee fell to the floor as though he were dead. Mattie Lee was so frightened that she screamed and asked him what he had done to her husband. Seymour began to pray, and eventually, Lee got up—more convinced than ever that Seymour was right.
On Friday, April 6, the members of the prayer meeting
decided to take the issue one step further by adding fasting to their
discipline of regular prayer. They planned a ten-day fast, during which they
would study Acts 2:1–4 and pray each evening until they had the same experience
described in this text. They meant business …
Lucy Farrow and Joseph Warren arrived in Los Angeles that same weekend. Around 6 P.M. on Monday, April 9, Edward Lee came home from work, not feeling well. He had, after all, been fasting for three days. When he arrived at home, he found that Lucy Farrow had arrived before him. He was excited to see her, since Seymour had promised she would be able to give them more light on the subject. He asked her to lay hands on him right then, in anticipation that he would be baptized in the Spirit. Farrow refused, suggesting that the Lord would tell her if and when she should do it.
Edward Lee, Lucy Farrow, Mattie Lee, her unnamed brother, and William Seymour were now all present. As they sat around a table, Edward Lee complained to Seymour that he didn’t feel well and that if he were going to be able to attend the evening meeting, Seymour should lay hands on him and pray for his recovery. Seymour came around to Edward Lee and asked Lucy Farrow to join him in prayer. She and Seymour prayed for his physical recovery, and, seeing Lee’s genuineness, Farrow announced that the time was right to pray for his baptism in the Spirit. When they laid hands on him, he fell to the floor and spoke with tongues. Only the distress of Mattie Lee and her brother cut short the moment. Edward Lee got up and returned to the table. He and Seymour were “overjoyed” by what had taken place. It was now time to tell the others.
The group walked the two blocks to the Asberry home, reaching there just before 7:30 P.M. A number of people had already arrived and were waiting expectantly for the meeting to begin. All of them were African American. They filled the “double parlor,” with a few people in adjacent rooms. Seymour began the meeting, first leading them in a song. The group offered three prayers and then gave their testimonies. This first part of the meeting may have taken a half hour or more. It was now time for Elder Seymour to speak, and he announced, as was expected, that he would be using Acts 2:4 as his text. He began to tell them about what had happened to Edward Lee only an hour before their arrival. No sooner had he completed the story when someone in the group began to speak in tongues. As Shumway told the story in 1914, “The whole company was immediately swept to its knees as by some mighty power.” They began to pray, and before the evening was over, several others had spoken in tongues as well. Among them was Jennie Evans Moore.
Shumway notes that Jennie Moore quickly made her way to the piano and “improvised a melody, with accompaniment, to which she sang in her new ecstatic ‘tongue.’” Willella Asberry, who was in the kitchen, flew into the parlor to see what was happening. “Bud” Traynor jumped to the front porch, where he shouted out the news to nearby neighbors.
Jesus satisfied William Seymour’s hunger and once the Holy Spirit came, he remained and moved in power every day, reaching the world. However, Seymour carefully preserved his hunger – just enjoying that now (after all the preparations and all personal maturing and all the waiting was completed) he would come much more quickly, every day. He had a strange habit.
Frank Bartleman: Azusa Street, New Kensington: Whitaker House 1982: Brother Seymour generally sat behind two empty shoe boxes, one on top of the other. He usually kept his head inside the top one during the meeting, in prayer. There was no pride there …
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: Before arriving in Los Angeles, Seymour had committed himself to the personal discipline of spending five or more hours each day in prayer. In those first weeks following his arrival in Los Angeles, Seymour had increased this prayer time. Even after the mission came into being, with all of its urgent demands on his time, Seymour continued a regimen of prayer. Frank Bartleman observed that “Brother Seymour generally sat behind two empty shoe boxes, one on top of the other [which served as the mission’s pulpit]. He usually kept his head inside the top one during the meeting, in prayer. There was no pride there.” His time spent in prayer likely contributed to his clear sense of calling and purpose, shaping him into a leader open and vulnerable to others.
Pastor Seymour’s lack of selfishness set him apart from many around him. He believed that God was doing something new, and he wanted simply to be used in that new thing. When others looked at the revival, they, too, wanted to be part of it. Some took part by moving in and attempting to take over. While most of them did not challenge Seymour’s leadership in the mission, they did challenge him by holding meetings nearby. Los Angeles was a growing city and it would have been possible to begin other Apostolic Faith congregations in many parts of the city. Most competitors, however, stayed within four to six blocks of the Azusa Street Mission … But in every case, Pastor Seymour valued the new ministries as allies. Before long, he was hosting weekly “leadership meetings” at the mission.
William Seymour did not get distracted by the success of the revival – the mass appeal and amazing testimonies and his own importance. He kept his hunger for God pure. It was not about him and he would not take control of anything unless he had received something from God. The hunger was for God, not a platform to shine and perform.
People came from everywhere:
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: The revival that took place at the mission was an “event” to which people went. Thousands of people attended the revival but most of them took part in it for only a short period of time. They may have attended only a single meeting or perhaps a series of meetings over a week or two.
They were hungry. The whole environment in Los Angeles was marked by hunger, certainly among the Christians who were inspired by the Welsh Revival. [The revival in Wales (1904-05) lasted less than a year, but in that time 100,000 people were converted.] But their hunger was being tested at Azusa Street. How hungry are you? God wants to know what is on your heart.
Would you have gone to the Azusa Street mission and endured the discomfort of sitting in one of their services:
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: The building in which they met was … nothing to look at—little more than a poorly whitewashed, burned-out shell with makeshift essentials. On its sawdust-covered dirt floor sat a collection of nail kegs and boards, and an assortment of discarded chairs. Because it lacked insulation and air conditioning, and its ground floor was built of rough-sawn studs with only the outside lumber as walls, during the summer months the building grew intensely hot. With so many perspiring bodies jammed together in such close quarters, the air became so foul at times that, as one reporter sniffed, it was “necessary to stick one’s nose under the benches to get a breath of fresh air.” …
To make matters worse, through much of that first summer of 1906 the place was plagued by flies! One reporter painted this graphic picture: “The temple of the Holy Rollers was a stable not so long ago, and the big lazy flies, separated from the friendly horses, still haunt its dim recesses in a disconsolate sort of way and alight sickly on neck and faces, refusing to budge until they are rudely slapped off.” Another cowered, “Swarms of flies, attracted by the vitiated atmosphere, buzzed throughout the room, and it was a continual fight for protection.” …
In spite of all of these problems—the substandard facilities, intense heat, lack of ventilation, and swarms of flies—people came by the thousands …
If the primitive surroundings were not offensive enough, there were enough other “offenses” which tested one’s sensibilities and hunger for God, no matter what:
The white pastor and Bible teacher, Charles Parham, who first taught William Seymour about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and the gift of speaking in tongues was offended by what he saw at Azusa Street and his reactions were typical in an age where there was strict segregation between whites and blacks. William Seymour himself was not allowed to attend Parham’s “whites only” classes, except to listen in, through an open door, from the corridor.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: Parham was scandalized by these things. He could not tolerate seeing a black man aiding a white woman in prayer, especially when it involved any form of touching. In their ecstatic state, he claimed, they engaged in unseemly activities that no person in his or her right mind would tolerate. As he later recalled it, men and women, whites and blacks, knelt together or fell across one another; frequently, a white woman, perhaps of wealth and culture, could be seen thrown back in the arms of a big “buck nigger,” and held tightly thus as she shivered and shook in freak imitation of Pentecost. Horrible, awful shame! Many of the missions on the Pacific coast are permeated with this foolishness, and, in fact, it follows the Azusa work everywhere.
Then, the meetings at Azusa Street enjoyed a high level of freedom, tolerating some “wild” behaviour:
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: Most of them prayed silently. But one big black woman, with a voice like a megaphone, continued howling, “O Lo’d, let me git it. O, Lo’d, let me have it.”
For about fifteen minutes she kept this up. Then she got it and she got it good and plenty, whatever it was.
She began rocking and writhing and in five minutes she was on the floor apparently in the greatest pain. Her eyes rolled wildly, and if her arms and legs hadn’t been fastened on they would have been scattered to the four winds. She jumped to her feet and some of the unregenerate who had looked on with open-mouthed wonder fled from the building in terror … All the brethren and the sistern gathered around her and Amened and Hallelujahed until they were hoarse, evidently as happy as she was …
This kind of total abandonment before God that led up to sanctification was often demonstrated at the altar through public displays of tears, groaning, and crying in anguish for past sins, as well as groveling on the floor while in prayer—almost literally in sackcloth and ashes. Or it could also be demonstrated through enthusiastic, festive celebration, with singing, shouting, clapping, leaping, and dancing. One newspaper reporter described this latter mode well: “Days later the Times repeated its claim that every evening those who still had breath continued to make the night ‘hideous with their yells and squeals.’”
Another newspaper counted “innumerable” complaints lodged against the mission regarding what it called the “noises of insane people.” On another occasion it announced that the services held the previous night would be “long remembered” by anyone within “five blocks,” since it had been so “emphatically enthusiastic” …
One of the most common experiences at the altar was the phenomenon of being “slain in the Spirit”. Other actions captivated news reporters even more. One informant reported to the police that worshippers were leaping over chairs and jumping through open windows in their ecstasy. A Times reporter investigated and concluded, “It is a queer mixture of rich and poor which congregates in this building, and all are afflicted alike—with some peculiar impulse to perform astonishing gymnastic feats and shout so they may be heard for blocks.”
A less sympathetic reporter complained that on another occasion the police had been forced to enter the mission and clean up a potential moral disaster. The reporter alleged that several women spent at least a part of the night lying flat on their backs on the dirty floor of the room, each endeavoring to kick her heels higher in the air than the others. As a result the fanatical and almost hysterical females were practically standing on their heads in the midst of a large audience.
The reporter moralized, As such exhibitions are not
allowed even in the tough resorts in the city, the police were forced to call a
halt to this part of the “holy kickers” rites. When the women were forced to
desist they became wildly hysterical and screamed and preached until they sank
exhausted and nearly unconscious to the floor.
Would you have stayed in those kinds of meetings? I don’t like weirdness (maybe our culture is also a little different from the African American camp meeting style) but maybe I can quote again Lori, the daughter of Pastor John Arnott. This is how she responded to the “weirdness” that happened at Toronto:
Transcribed from her testimony given at the 20th anniversary of the “Father’s Blessing” in 2014: … I had a miraculous ticket provided for me and I came up – I think – on Day 4. And just was overwhelmed really with the love of God. One key thing that the Holy Spirit taught me – I was watching the manifestations and because I was saved at three and grew up in lots of Pentecostal meetings, I knew what happened when people had manifestations. They cried or laughed or made a disturbance. They took them out. Seriously and they prayed for them in the back. And so there I am sitting on the second row in the hall and this lady was laughing so loud and disruptively. And I am looking at my Dad, thinking: “Why are you let this happening? Why aren’t you doing something with this?” I know how this goes. And clear as anything the Lord has ever spoken to me, he said to me: “Lori, I want you to mind your own business.” He said: “You came for me. So you just let them handle that.” And I said: “Okay. I am not even concerned.”
So the next night they had this lady come up and she gave this testimony: For the last twenty years, I have been depressed. I have gone to every doctor and psychologist that I can find and nothing has ever helped and this is the first time in twenty years that I have laughed.
Transcribed from Heidi Baker’s testimony given at the 20th anniversary of the “Father’s Blessing” in 2014: … I am so happy to be here. A lot of places I go I can’t just … They would have already had the ushers pull me out but [Heidi keeps laughing joyfully] but this is … Thank you that in this house I became a happy missionary [Heidi is crying] … I just want everybody to feel this … I just want everybody to feel this love to the ends of the earth, Lord … Oh God, oh God, I want them to feel your love and your passion. [Heidi keeps crying.] I want them to know, I want them to know, I want them to know … [She stops crying so hard.] … Jesus. I want them to know Jesus. I want them to know Jesus … Every fiery dart aimed from hell fall to the ground and die … every bit of witchcraft fall to the ground and die … Thank you, Jesus, for your glorious love …
Wow … I was overshadowed in this place. I was overshadowed in this place several times and I felt that I had this great privilege of coming back and seeing my [church] family … I asked the Lord just what did he want for today and I guess he just wanted me to get undone which is wonderful. In so many places you know you don’t have that freedom. You just don’t have that freedom and I was thinking of the times when I came in here and nobody knew me. Nobody knew us. We were giving our lives away, fasting and praying and living in the slums twenty years, holding the poor. Nobody knew us but our friends, the poor. And we came in here and I screamed like a banshee and they didn’t make me leave. They just left me, left me there. I didn’t even know what was happening to me but I know that in 99.999 percent of any church anywhere I would have been pulled out by my feet. And instead they put their hands on me and said: “More. More. More.” What if they had pulled me out? I am so grateful. That’s why I keep having no words. It’s just crowded to in my heart. The freedom for God to just crash in on people in this place and transform them for ever and ever and ever.
I wanna tell you, I am so love with Jesus but I think if I hadn’t come here eighteen years ago I would not have been a missionary any longer. I would have done just anything else … but I sure would not have been a missionary. And now since the time I stepped in here we have released thousands and thousands of missionaries all over the planet … And I am just so grateful because it is his multiplication. You see you would just allow God to overshadow you, you just give yourself fully to him, Holy Spirit wants to overshadow you. God himself wants to cover you …
These last eighteen years for me have been the hardest and most glorious, and I would not trade any of it for anything because Jesus is worthy …
Jesus wants us hungry and he wants us so hungry that all pride is nullified. Neither discomfort (a hot, fly-infested stable), nor humble surroundings, nor race prejudice or class consciousness, nor uncomfortable expressions of emotions or stirrings of the Holy Spirit – nothing of our pride must remain but we surrender everything to Jesus, saying: “Your way – your will – and not mine.”
1 Corinthians 1:25-29: … the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
The biggest challenge to pride – for many that were actually hungry for revival – came from their theology – what they thought that the Bible was teaching and what they had believed (with pride) all of their lives. They could not help it but be hostile to the Azusa Street Mission because Pastor William Seymour and his little band of believers were teaching that others still needed to be baptized with the Holy Spirit when these others were convinced that they had already received the same.
The whole teaching debate between William Seymour and his critics is foreign to us (Lutherans) but it is fascinating. The critics – the Holiness Churches and Methodist Churches – very much influenced by John Wesley – believed that after salvation – justification by faith – there was another grace available – another work of God which they identified as the baptism with the Holy Spirit (this is why they called themselves “Pentecostal”) – and that is: sanctification – victory over sin, power by the Spirit to overcome temptations. Consequently, they believed that they had already attained the baptism with the Holy Spirit. (And according to them, this claim and teaching wasn’t just words, they experienced something.) However, William Seymour disagreed:
The Azusa Papers: The first thing in order to receive this precious and wonderful baptism with the Holy Spirit, we want to have a clear knowledge of justification by faith according to the Bible. Rom. 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” faith that all our actual sins may be washed away. Actual sin means committed sin.
And then the second step is to have a real knowledge of sanctification, which frees us from original sin—the sin that we were born with, which we inherited from our father Adam. We were not responsible for that sin until we received light, for we could not repent of a sin that we did not commit. When we came to the Lord as a sinner, we repented to God of our actual sins, and God for Christ’s sake pardoned us and washed our sin and pollution away, and planted eternal life in our souls. Afterwards we saw in the Word of God, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.” 1Thess. 4:3, also John 17:15-19. We consecrated ourselves to God, and the Lord Jesus sanctified our souls, and made us every whit clean.
Then after we were clearly sanctified, we prayed to God for the baptism with the Holy Spirit. So He sent the Holy Spirit to our hearts and filled us with His blessed Spirit, and He gave us the Bible evidence, according to the 2nd chapter of Acts verses 1 to 4, speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.
Praise our God; He is the same yesterday, today, and
forever. Receive Him just now and He will fill you. Amen. Don’t get discouraged
but pray until you are filled, for the Lord says, “Men ought always to pray and
not to faint.” Don’t stop because you do not receive the baptism with the Holy
Ghost at the first, but continue until you are filled. The Lord Jesus told His
disciples to tarry until they were endued with power from on high. Many people
today are willing to tarry just so long, and then they give up and fail to
receive their personal Pentecost that would measure with the Bible. The Lord
Jesus says, “Ye shall be filled.” He says that to the person that hungers and
thirsts after righteousness and He says they are blessed. So if there is a
hunger and thirst in our souls for righteousness, we are blest of Him. Praise
His dear name! --Yours in Christ, W.J.S.
Later I will share my view of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I neither agree with William Seymour nor the Holiness Churches and Methodists. Yet – for all of the flaws (in my view) – William Seymour’s teaching had the advantage that people began searching and exercising faith for more of God – more of the Holy Spirit – and they did receive. Sometimes – with God – hunger for him is more important than theology. Sometimes, we can cry out to him in desperation and receive from him before we completely understand what is going on. God wants our heart first and the head will catch up in time. Who understands salvation before it happens?
The most radical case is Mary who had no idea what it meant to fall pregnant by the Holy Spirit and carry the Son of God in her womb. Yet, she was ready to receive the experience – not fully understanding the mystery of God becoming man in her womb – and said:
Luke 1:29-38: Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be … “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” … “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
I give you a few testimonies from Holiness people who gave up their understanding and their pride in what they thought that they knew to receive what was in front of them:
The Azusa Papers: It is an awful hard thing to get a holiness preacher that has been indoctrinated for years to see that he has not received his Pentecost. I have been preaching for twenty years and never preached anything but a full salvation. To get a fellow that has been preaching twenty years to see that he has not received the baptism, when he has been preaching all the time that he has it, and then to get him to turn seeker, is a hard job. I tell you it means for him to get pretty near the end of himself.
The time has come, in the full blaze of Pentecost,
that if you do not walk in the light, you will become a dry chip. I bless God.
I humbled myself. On the 10th day of July the Lord gave me the evidence of the
Pentecost. It took me three weeks, searching the Word, from Genesis to
Revelations to see that these things were so. Any fellow that will get down on
his knees and pray through and read through, will find that the Holy Ghost only
falls on a clean temple. You must give over and let God have His way.
A MINNESOTA PREACHER’S TESTIMONY – Los Angeles, California, March 5, 1907.
”Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord”, (Isaiah 43: 10-12.)
When in my 21st year, I was deeply convicted of my sins, and sought and found pardon of God, through our Savior Jesus Christ, and I truly believed that His precious Blood had been applied to my soul, to the washing away of my sins. But like many others, I soon lost the bright evidence of my acceptance with God but did not entirely backslide or go back into sin, as I loved God’s people and took pleasure in attending meetings, where at times, the Lord would bless me. But in the year 1881, in a prayer meeting, the Lord clearly set me at liberty, and established me in the justified relation, in which state I continued for about a year, when the Lord gloriously sanctified my soul.
Since that time I have had many anointings of the Spirit, and like other holiness people thought that I had the baptism with the Holy Ghost. So when I came to the Azusa Street Mission, I was quite certain of three things, viz; that I already had received the baptism with the Holy Ghost; 2nd, that I could set these people right from a scriptural standpoint in regard to their views as to the speaking in tongues being the Bible evidence of having received the Holy Ghost; 3rd, I believed God would give me discernment of spirits to know whether this work was of God.
On Sunday, Feb. 10, I had the privilege of being seated in the midst of the assembly at Azusa Street Mission, near the preacher’s stand. As the meeting progressed, I became convinced that God was there in mighty power and that this is indeed the work of the Holy Spirit, and that this people had an experience in the Christian life that I had not attained to. It was not so much the speaking in tongues that convinced me, as the heavenly unction that rested upon many, as they testified, and as the Holy Ghost sang through them, to the edification of others, and I wish to confess that before the meeting closed I was hungry for God. The Lord let me see clearly that He had something more for me, and that He wanted me to tarry until endued with power from on high.
I commenced to go down before the Lord, the hunger increased from day to day and was intensified so that I cried out from the depths of my soul, in the language of scripture, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.” After about two weeks, earnestly seeking at the altar and in secret prayer, with other means as the Holy Spirit led, on Feb. 25, the Lord baptized me with the Holy Ghost and fire, and spoke through me in an unknown tongue as the Spirit gave utterance, (the Bible evidence of the baptism of the Holy Ghost,) Acts 2:4; Mark 16:17; Acts 10:45, 46; 19:6.
Some may ask the question, What have you more than you had before you received your Pentecost? I have far greater liberty and Divine unction on me in dealing with souls, and there has come into my life an overflow of love and joy with a deep settled peace planted in the depths of my soul, a something that is inexpressible and indescribable. To God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost be all the praise and glory for ever --H.L. Blake, Ruthton, Minn.
A CHICAGO EVANGELIST’S PENTECOST – 943 W. North Ave., Chicago, Ill., March 19.
Dear Readers of the Apostolic Faith: I desire to give my testimony for the glory of God, and in the hope that it will prove a blessing to many that read it.
Nine years ago I was deeply convicted of sin, through the Bible and the Spirit moving upon me, which He continued to do till I truly repented of my sins, and earnestly sought the Lord, finally yielding all to Him, and pleading His mercy. He revealed to my heart Christ dying on the cross, and His voice whispered to me, “Christ died for your sins.” Instantly my heart believed, and His peace flooded my soul, and the joy of His salvation was wonderful to me. Later I saw and grasped by faith the truth of sanctification, and the Spirit witnessed to my heart that the work was done, and the Holy Ghost wonderfully wrought in my life.
Five years ago I was called into the ministry, and all these years the Spirit has been with me in a wonderful way. Sometimes I would be overcome by His power. In brief, I honestly believed I was baptized with the Holy Ghost, and testified to it. God had done so much for me, that it was hard for me to believe that there was more for me, except of course, development as I went on with God. And still there was a longing in my heart for something. I traveled as an evangelist from coast to coast, and preached the Gospel in almost every large city in the United States, speaking to as high as 1,000 people at a time, often seeing from twenty-five to one hundred at the altar in a single service. And many were saved, sanctified, and many healed. But some way all this did not satisfy me, and for a year the heart hunger has increased. Like all holiness people I have met, I kept praying for love, power, etc.
Finally I heard of the work of God in Azusa Street Mission, Los Angeles, and said to my people, That is the work of God. Later I heard someone preach that the speaking in tongues was the Bible evidence that we had received the baptism in the Holy Ghost, and not understanding it I rejected it. But I saw those who were speaking in tongues had something that I did not have, and I finally became a seeker. And the Lord impressed me to go to Los Angeles, and attend the meetings, and seek the baptism in the Holy Ghost. Finally on Feb. 8, I arrived there, and Sunday, Feb. 10, I attended my first all-day meeting. The first man I met on entering the building was Brother H.L. Blake of Ruthton, Minn., who still believed he had received the baptism with the Holy Ghost in sanctification, and the anointings and fillings that followed; but I told him I was convinced that what I had was not the baptism.
The first thing that impressed me was the love and unity that prevailed in the meeting, and the heavenly sweetness that filled the very air that I breathed. I want to say right here, that I have attended many large holiness camp meetings and conventions, but I never felt the power and glory that I felt in Azusa Street Mission, and when about twenty persons joined in singing the “Heavenly Chorus,” it was the most ravishing and unearthly music that ever fell on mortal ears. It seemed and still seems to me, I could not sing in that chorus. I know it came direct from heaven. I at once became an earnest seeker, and day after day, I went down before the Lord, and He was true to me. He showed me myself as He saw me. I can never forget the state of utter helplessness to which He reduced me. He even took away the spirit of prayer, my testimony was removed from me, I saw myself apart from Christ as it were, and it made me desperate. I can never forget the faithfulness of Sister Good, and others, in dealing with me. Next to God, I am indebted to them, dear faithful souls, laying down their lives for others; and all the reward they receive so far as I can see, was the plain clothing they wear and food they eat.
After I had been there a little over two weeks, devoting the entire time to seeking my Pentecost, on a Tuesday afternoon, when very much disheartened, suddenly the power of God descended upon me, and I went down under it. I have no language to describe what took place, but it was wonderful. It seemed to me that my body had suddenly become porous, and that a current of electricity was being turned on me from all sides; and for two hours I lay under His mighty power, and yet I knew I was not baptized yet, though I literally felt transparent, and a wonderful glory had come into my soul. Again on Thursday evening following, His power came over me, and I was prostrate on the floor for two hours, and still I knew I was not baptized, though I received a great spiritual uplift.
But on Friday evening, March 1, His mighty power came over me, until I jerked and quaked under it for about three hours. It was strange and wonderful and yet glorious. He worked my whole body, one section at a time, first my arms, then my limbs, then my body, then my head, then my face, then my chin, and finally at 1 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 2, after being under the power for three hours, He finished the work on my vocal organs, and spoke through me in unknown tongues. I arose, perfectly conscious outwardly and inwardly that I was fully baptized in the Holy Ghost, and the devil can never tempt me to doubt it. First I was conscious that a living Person had come into me, and that He possessed even my physical being, in a literal sense, in so much that He could at His will take hold of my vocal organs, and speak any language He chose through me. Then I had such power on me and in me as I never had before. And last but not least, I had a depth of love and sweetness in my soul that I had never even dreamed of before, and a holy calm possessed me, and a holy joy and peace, that is deep and sweet beyond anything I ever experienced before, even in the sanctified life. And O! such victory as He gives me all the time.
Almost three weeks have passed, and all this is with me, and is deepening all the time. My soul is melted over and over again, and many times I feel as if there were, and I believe there is a dynamo of power in me; there is nothing selfish about this, but it is fathomless, real, literal, blessed, grand. O that all the world would seek and find this wonderful gift of God! It is something that speaks for itself. I have not had to witness to the saints I have met for when they hear me speaking in tongues and praising the Lord, they just exclaim, “Brother Durham has got his Pentecost.” Glory to God!
After receiving the baptism, I remained a few days in the home of Brother and Sister Osterberg, to whom I am deeply indebted for their great kindness to me, and left for Colorado Springs March 6. Sunday the 10th, preached three times in the G.A.R. Hall to a crowded house, and the power of God was on the people. About fifty came to the altar, and several came through and spoke in tongues. I also spent two nights in Denver, preaching to large audiences, and full altars, and a number came through and spoke in tongues. From there I came to Des Moines, Iowa, and preached twice in Mrs. Judge Ladd’s Mission, which was crowded, and the altar was so full I could not get to all of the seekers to deal with them.
Saturday, March 16, I reached home, and found that the Lord had taken good care of my dear wife and baby during my absence, and Sunday, March 17, we had the largest attendance in the history of the Mission, and again the altar was so full, that it was hard to deal with the people. And so the work goes on, the Spirit falls like rain wherever I preach His word, and it seems there is no effort on my part. I will close my testimony by saying to all who read it: This work is of God, there is no doubt of that. And I would advise all my friends to seek the baptism in the Holy Ghost, till they get the evidence in tongues, for it always follows; I know of no exception.
Now just a word concerning Brother Seymour, who is the
leader of the movement under God: He is the meekest man I ever met. He walks and
talks with God. His power is in his weakness. He seems to maintain a helpless
dependence on God and is as simple-hearted as a little child, and at the same
time is so filled with God that you feel the love and power every time you get
near him. --W.H. Durham.
When Rev. Evans and his wife and Sister Florence Crawford went to the city of Oakland preaching the full Gospel, I went the first night, not to criticize but to investigate. Many preachers were there to criticize, but when I stepped in, I felt the power of God and could not say that it was the work of the devil, as most of the preachers declared, for I was practically convinced that it was the work of the Holy Ghost. I went home and began to study my Bible, and went to God in prayer to reveal to me if these people were really the people of God. He revealed to me in the attitude of my supplication that they were preaching exactly what the disciples of old preached. I was convinced that every minister of the Gospel should receive the same baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire that the disciples received on the day of Pentecost, before they are prepared to preach the Gospel. I was teaching that when we receive sanctification, we receive the Holy Ghost, as most of the preachers are teaching. But as I went to my Bible with the spirit of prayer, God revealed to me that the disciples were justified before Christ ascended; but they never were baptized with the Holy Ghost until the day of Pentecost.
The second day that I went to the meeting, the Lord put a real hunger in my soul to go forward, but I was too proud as a minister of the Gospel to humble myself in a lowly mission and let ladies pray over me for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and I had in my mind what people would think of me. But the third day, as I arose to testify in the audience, the only words I could say were: “What does God think of me?” Then I could only weep for some minutes and the power of God came upon me until I dropped to the floor. I was under the power of God for about an hour and a half, and it was there that all pride, and self, and conceit disappeared, and I was really dead to the world, for I had Christ within in His fullness. I was baptized with the Holy Ghost and spoke in a new tongue.
I praise God for the light, and now I am walking in
it. The desire of my heart is to see every man and woman that preaches the
Gospel of Christ, baptized with the Holy Ghost, for without the Holy Ghost it
is almost impossible for us to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and
RECEIVING THE HOLY GHOST – God has told His children to be witnesses, and the most convincing evidence is testimony of personal knowledge. To endeavor to help those who are sending in letters of inquiry to the Apostolic Faith office, asking how they may receive the Holy Ghost, the writer will state a little of his personal experience in obtaining this pearl of great price, the baptism with the Holy Ghost.
I dropped into the meetings on Azusa Street some time in April, having heard that some people were speaking in tongues, as they did on the day of Pentecost. Although I had been trying to preach Pentecost for five years, the speaking in tongues was as strange to me as though it had never been mentioned in God’s word. At first the meeting seemed a very tame affair to me, as I had been along the line of much fleshly demonstration and noise. As I was indoctrinated in the second blessing being the baptism with the Holy Ghost, I branded the teaching as heretical, not going to the meetings for some time.
In the meantime, Pentecost came to the place, and many began to speak in tongues. I now began to attend regularly. In fact, I could not stay away. My heart began to break up, and soon I was going from one person to another, asking them to forgive me for harsh words and criticism. God so melted my heart that I would cry at my work or riding on a streetcar. How the dear Lord began to teach me that what I needed was His loving, tender Spirit, and that power with God meant deep humility in our dealings with our fellow creatures.
I now began to go to the altar and earnestly seek for the Lord to have His way with me. Soon the power of God began to work with me. The Holy Ghost showed me that I must be clay in the Potter’s hands, an empty vessel before the Lord. I laid aside all doctrine, all pre-conceived ideas and teachings and became absolutely empty. The Holy Ghost now settled down on me, and I could feel the power going through me like electric needles. The Spirit taught me that I must not resist the power but give way and become limp as a piece of cloth. When I did this, I fell under the power, and God began to mold me and teach me what it meant to be really surrendered to Him. I was laid out under the power five times before Pentecost really came. Each time I would come out from under the power, I would feel so sweet and clean, as though I had been run through a washing machine.
I now had come to the place where I was completely submitted to the whole will of God. I had been seeking about five weeks, and on a Saturday morning I awoke and stretched my arms toward heaven and asked God to fill me with the Holy Ghost. My arms began to tremble, and soon I was shaken violently by a great power, and it seemed as though a large pipe was fitted over my neck, my head apparently being off. I was now filled with the Holy Ghost. Words cannot describe the power I felt. The nearest description that could be given would be the action of a pump under terrific pressure, filling me with oil. I could feel the filling in my toes and all parts of my body which seemed to me to swell until I thought I would burst. I do not know how long this continued but it seemed to me a long time. The pressure was now removed and my soul and spirit seemed to leave the body and float in the air just above. My body seemed hard and metallic like iron. This was undoubtedly the baptism into the death of Christ.
It was now time for me to arise and go to work, so I
got up without speaking in tongues. I believe I would have spoken in tongues
then, if I had remained in the hands of the Lord long enough. About thirty
hours afterwards, while sitting in the meeting on Azusa Street, I felt my
throat and tongue begin to move, without any effort on my part. Soon I began to
stutter and then out came a distinct language which I could hardly restrain. I
talked and laughed with joy far into the night. Praise His name for such a
wonderful experience of power and love and joy. – G.A. Cook.
[In a nice way, Mrs Hebden reminds me of Lutherans.]
Mr. and Mrs. Hebden began praying for more power to heal the sick and cast out
demons. The Lord said to Mrs. Hebden, “Tongues, tongues.” She answered, “No,
Lord, not tongues, but power, power.” The Spirit was grieved. Then she replied,
“Anything, Lord, tongues or anything.” Soon after this the power came upon this
yielded woman and she began to speak in an unknown language. And now the Holy
Spirit speaks and prays in a tongue through her, and sings and writes and makes
sketches which appear like landscapes. Paul exhorts, “Let him pray that he may
interpret.” She has prayed and now interprets. One of the sketches was as
clouds rolling up from the earth. Two days after this was given, it was
interpreted to her to mean...a resurrection of the saints. I heard Mrs. Hebden
speak yesterday interpreting what she said. It was this: “God’s people should
pray for more humility.” Another sentence was, “On the 17th of November, the
Lord baptized me with the Holy Ghost and gave me the Bible evidence.”
Brother Hebden received his Pentecost last Sabbath morning, while quietly meditating on the word of the Lord, not thinking of the baptism. He praised Jesus, and the Holy Ghost fell upon him. He prayed in a tongue yesterday in my hearing. The meetings are heavenly. They are conducted informally. A stranger could scarcely discover who is in the lead. Christ is the Head. The Holy Ghost leads.
One young woman who was very nice and precise in the world was marvelously saved. She had been under deep conviction for days. When once surrendered, she seemed to sweep with one bound from the altar of burnt offering into the most holy place, from the cross to the Pentecostal chamber, sealed with the Bible evidence. (Acts 10:46) She laughed incessantly for hours and hours. Sometimes she speaks in a tongue while at her work.
I am absolutely fascinated by the fact that not a single one of William Seymour’s sermons or teachings survived. Not a single one! Compare that with the volumes of sermons and lectures which we have from other leaders of revivals, e.g.: Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Finney, Wesley. It is fascinating and exasperating – especially to us who need to have everything worked out before we risk embracing anything that is new to us. How could God release a move of the Holy Spirit which would cover the globe but explain so little? William Seymour was no scholar, lacking in education, but – under his leadership – the world rediscovered the gift of tongues and more of the Holy Spirit. An experience came first, then maturity in understanding.
Right now, in our denomination we have a similar problem as the Holiness Churches and Methodists. Many to struggle to come and be baptized with the Holy Spirit because they also believe that it has already happened. We are not like those following John Wesley identifying the baptism with a second work of grace, granting victory over sin, but many Lutheran believe that the water baptism is the same as the promised baptism with the Holy Spirit. Yet the water baptism and the Spirit baptism are not the same. Here is a handout which includes excerpts from my book “Surprised by the Holy Spirit”:
Water Baptism and Being Baptized with the Spirit
Without reservations, I uphold the teaching of the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions on Water Baptism which is a sacrament and means of grace:
When another pastor baptized me with water, it was done, according to Jesus’ command, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). I have no doubt that in this baptism I was born of the Spirit (see John 3:5), became a new creation (see 2 Cor. 5:17), was raised to live a new life (see Rom. 6:4), and became a child of God (Gal. 3:26-27). Thus established in my baptism; I grew up confessing my faith and I had the Spirit in me because “…no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). I did not need more of the Spirit for salvation.
The Baptism with the Holy Spirit serves a different function from the Baptism with Water:
I realized that the experience of being baptized with the Spirit had nothing to do with salvation. It was a promise of power (see Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8). After Jesus had ascended to heaven, the disciples were praising God and enjoying their salvation. At that time, they were not lacking in faith but they were waiting for the baptism with the Spirit to make them powerful in mission. They only started preaching after it happened.
Therefore, the function of the water baptism and the further gift of the Spirit are not one and the same. The immersion in water gives us salvation; and the immersion in the Spirit grants us power. There is no competition between the two.
At the beginning of the Christian life, there seems to be a threefold process of Repentance, Baptism with Water and Receiving the Holy Spirit (being baptized with the Holy Spirit):
In the Bible, there seems to be a threefold process for every new believer, and it became the focus of attention early on because, after the disciples had preached their very first sermon, the people responded and asked them, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The disciples answered by encouraging the crowd to seize three distinct experiences that were available to everyone:
Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
The disciples asked the people 1) to repent, and 2) to be baptized (with water) for the forgiveness of their sins, so that 3) they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (meaning here the experience of being baptized with the Spirit). These three experiences were part of the process of becoming a believer and they all belonged together in the whole package of starting out as a Christian.
On the same day that someone repented, he or she could be baptized and receive the Spirit. Yet, there could also be time delays between repentance, baptism, and receiving the Spirit. For instance, in response to an encounter with Jesus, Saul repented but was not baptized before three days (see Acts 9:3-19).
Even though Water Baptism and Spirit Baptism are meant to come together at the beginning of the Christian life, there is a distinction between them. They are not the same:
1) Acts 8:14-17
It took some time for the new Christians in Samaria to receive the Spirit after their baptism:
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-17).
In the case of the Samaritans, the delay between baptism and receiving the Spirit was unusual; therefore it was immediately rectified—but confirms the basic distinction between water baptism and the gift of the Spirit in the process of becoming a Christian.
2) Acts 10:44-48
At one time, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the preaching of Jesus before anyone could baptize them with water (see Acts 10:44-48). The Spirit baptism and the water baptism were not the same.
3) Acts 19:5-6
Once again, the water baptism came with the promise of the Holy Spirit (the infilling with the Holy Spirit) but the Spirit baptism did not occur at the water baptism but – subsequently – through the laying on of hands:
On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:5-6).
4) Luke 3:21-22
Jesus’ own baptism with water and the Spirit foreshadowed our experiences as we follow Him. He was also baptized with water first (John’s baptism for the forgiveness of sins foreshadowing the later baptism in Jesus’ name) and then was baptized with the Spirit. As other people repented and were baptized, Jesus Himself was also baptized, and when He emerged from the water, He was immediately immersed in the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit descended on him:
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:21-22).
To this day, numerous people emerge from the water of their baptism with the same experience of being also immersed in the Holy Spirit. In fact, not disputing possible time delays, this is to be expected because these two experiences, with the experience of repentance, belong together at the beginning of the Christian life, but they are distinct from each other.
5) Hebrews 6:1-2
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:1-2).
Matthew Henry: “It will be observed that the plural form is used here – ‘baptisms.’ There are two baptisms whose necessity is taught by the Christian religion – baptism by water, and by the Holy Spirit …”
The water baptism and the Spirit baptism are both available at the beginning of your Christian life – when you are born again – but they serve different functions: The immersion in water gives us salvation; and the immersion in the Spirit grants us power. There is no competition between the two (and we uphold all of our Lutheran teaching on water baptism without denying the power that is available at our Spirit baptism).
Then, the Spirit baptism conveys power for a three-fold purpose: assurance of salvation and the love of God, victory over sin and power for mission work. We can see this three-fold purpose in Jesus’ own experience of being baptized with the Holy Spirit and – to use a modern term – I would say that it is a “package deal”.
The Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Learning 3 Main Purposes from Jesus’ Own Experience (Luke 3-4)
Assurance of Identity
Luke 3:21-22: “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
Romans 8:15-16: “… but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” [See also Galatians 6:4; 1 John 4:24.]
2 Corinthians 1:21-22: “… He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” [Se also 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14.]
Victory over Sin
Luke 4:1-2: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil …”
Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not be your master ...”
Romans 8:13: “… by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body …”
Galatians 5:16: “… live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Power for Mission Work
Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Acts 1:4-8: “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When you are baptized with the Holy Spirit, the whole package deal is available to you – assurance, victory over sin and power for mission work – but, in 1906, many Wesleyan Christians (in my view) did not fully unpack the package and only had faith for the power over sin. I would say that they had already been baptized with the Holy Spirit – (and here I disagree with William Seymour who had made victory over sin a second step after conversion before finally receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit in a third step) – but had not yet exercised faith for everything that was available and – according to the Bible and our Lutheran Confessions – we do receive by faith.
Romans 5:1-2: … we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand …
Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
James 5:15: And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up …
Matthew 17:20: He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Martin Luther was convinced that unbelief is the chief sin because it makes God out to be a liar whose promises cannot be trusted. He writes: “Where this faith is missing, there can be no proper prayer … they get nothing” (Martin Luther: Large Catechism, Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer’s last petition).
Are you hungry for more of God? In 1906 – at the Azusa Street Mission – it was absolutely humbling for many pastors and learned church members that they had not yet received from God as they thought that they had. They had to change their thinking and they may still not have ended up with perfect theology. (For instance, even among Pentecostals, there is now the teaching that the gift of tongues does not in every case accompany the baptism with the Spirit.) Yet, God loved their hungry hearts – the way they humbled themselves – and they did receive more of the Spirit – and a world-wide revival.
[I have my understanding of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and I try as hard as I can to be faithful to the Scriptures and what God is showing me but you may disagree with my views (even though they are being shared by many others). You may say that you were already baptized with the Spirit at your infant water baptism and now only need a refilling according to the slogan: one baptism many fillings. Maybe the specifics are not as important right now as the need to have a theology which is not shutting the door of faith and which is not making you walk away from something that is available to us and that we need – more of the Spirit.]
Jesus promised everyone that they would receive the Spirit if they were only hungry – if they only asked and searched for him. In response to our prayers and asking, does the Holy Spirit come slowly or quickly to us? The answer is both-and.
In the Bible, it took the twelve core disciples almost three years of personal training with Jesus, surviving the crisis of Jesus’ crucifixion and their betrayal of him and then a ten-day wait before the Holy Spirit was poured out on them. This was a long time – requiring sustained hunger – before the Holy Spirit came but when he came, everything exploded around the disciples quickly with a wildfire of Holy Spirit movement across their city (3000 converts on day 1) which– within a few short years – covered the global Roman Empire. The Holy Spirit was a long time coming but then moved quickly and easily. [The leaders had to get ready.]
Personally, this is also true – as we have seen in many of the testimonies from Azusa Street. The Holy Spirit comes to us slowly and quickly. Sometimes, there is this extended hunger phase because – like the early disciples – we are getting processed – (our pride needs to be broken down) – but when this is done, the Holy Spirit moves quickly.
The Azusa Papers: It is a continual upper room tarrying at Azusa Street.
Cecil Robeck: The Azusa Street Mission and Revival, Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2006, eBook: The altar at the center of the sanctuary on the ground floor shows us that the mission considered prayer necessary in matters related to salvation, sanctification, and baptism in the Spirit. The “upper room” was provided for those who wished to pursue their baptism in the Spirit in what can only be described as “tarrying meetings,” that is, extended sessions of prayer that might last anywhere from several hours to several days.
Jesus said – Luke 11:13: “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Be hungry. Amen.
Appendix - History
“Pentecostal Movement Celebrates Humble Roots” by Marshall Allen (Religion News Service – Saturday, April 15, 2006):
LOS ANGELES – One hundred years ago, a series of boisterous revival meetings in a converted stable on Azusa Street launched a global movement that overcame differences in class, gender and race to unite around the belief that the Holy Spirit still works miracles.
Today, there are about 600 million Pentecostal and charismatic Christians whose roots are in the Azusa Street revival. They make up the fastest-growing segment of Christianity, thriving especially in the Southern Hemisphere, with their beliefs having an impact on nearly every Christian denomination.
The 100th anniversary will be celebrated worldwide, with thousands expected to participate in an Azusa Street Centennial in Los Angeles from April 25-29.
But what is now known as the Pentecostal movement had humble beginnings.
It started in early 1906, not on Azusa Street, but in a small house at 214 Bonnie Brae St. There, a black pastor named William Seymour, 35, preached for several weeks about baptism in the Holy Spirit, the belief that Christians can receive empowerment beyond their first baptism to heal, prophesy and speak in a spiritual language called tongues.
On April 9, 1906, the first person from the group spoke in tongues. Then another, and soon several spoke in tongues. It was considered evidence of being baptized in the spirit.
The believers saw it as a modern-day fulfillment of Acts 2:4, the biblical passage in which the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples after Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. That night in Los Angeles, several others in the African American congregation spoke in tongues.
Word spread and crowds became so large that services were held outside, with Seymour using the house’s front porch as a pulpit, according to Cecil M. Robeck Jr., professor of church history and ecumenics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.
“This was no quiet demonstration; it was full of noisy manifestations, shouts, speaking in tongues, moaning, and singing in tongues that undoubtedly would have frightened any uninitiated within audible range,” Robeck wrote in his new book, “The Azusa Street Mission & Revival.”
Seymour moved the group to a ramshackle building used to shelter livestock at 312 Azusa St. in working-class Los Angeles. There, on the sawdust-covered dirt floor of the Apostolic Faith Mission -- popularly known as the Azusa Street Mission -- thousands of people came to worship at three services a day, seven days a week for almost three years.
The congregation met in the round, with Seymour facilitating the interactive gathering from the center of the room. The meetings were in the style of the black church, with hand-clapping, foot-stomping and shouting. But, at the height of the Jim Crow era, they included blacks, whites, Hispanics and Asians from the Los Angeles melting pot -- up to 1,300 people at a time.
Newspaper reporters covered the rowdy meetings, and the reviews were less than flattering.
Believers were described as “Holy Rollers,” “Holy Jumpers,” “Tangled Tonguers” and “Holy Ghosters.”
Christians from other traditions were also critical, saying the movement was hyper-emotional, misused Scripture and lost focus on Christ by overemphasizing the Holy Spirit.
Undeterred, the Pentecostal Christians were motivated to share their faith with urgency. According to Robeck, they considered salvation a personal experience and expected physical healing and other miracles to occur when the Gospel was preached.
Believing the Second Coming of Christ was imminent, Azusa Street missionaries were sent throughout the world. And Evangelists from other countries traveled to the mission to experience the revival before bringing it to their own congregations.
Robeck said social factors contributed to the movement’s spread. Los Angeles was in the middle of a wave of immigration, and people in the midst of such change were desperately seeking answers. Seymour preached a message of empowerment that appealed to them.
While the mainstream media ridiculed Azusa Street, Frank Bartleman, an evangelist, kept a diary of what he saw and experienced. His vivid accounts, more than 500 in all, were published in Christian newspapers across the country. The Azusa Street mission also published a newspaper, the Apostolic Faith, which was distributed to 50,000 people, some of them overseas.
“That spread curiosity around the world and brought pilgrims from around the world,” said Vinson Synan, dean of the school of divinity at Regent University in Virginia Beach, who has researched Azusa Street history.
Services continued to be racially mixed, with Bartleman writing that “the color line was washed away in the blood of Jesus.”
Synan points out that having a black man, Seymour, in charge “with white men under his authority” was considered miraculous.
“From that day on I would say Pentecostalism has had more crossing of ethnic boundaries than any movement in the world in Christianity.”
Appendix – Testimonies
Sister Mead’s Baptism – Two years before we left Africa, the Holy Spirit began to speak to us in an especial way. We felt the lack of the power and love in the service of our Master, and we commenced seeking that power from Him; we had no definite light on the baptism in our sanctified life of twenty years. And praise God, we did have a most wonderful experience when we were justified, and our sins forgiven. And then after we were sanctified, the joy of heaven filled our souls, and we had the wonderful “anointing which abideth.” Yet we felt the lack of power in our lives, and this was what we were earnestly seeking, as we waited on God in our little mission home in Africa. It was at this time, that the Book of the Revelation was so wonderfully opened up to our souls, for which we shall never cease to praise God.
Just before our return to America, we believe it was the Spirit of God, who said to us very plainly: “Los Angles, California, is the end of your journey.” This seemed strange to us, at the time, as we had no friends in Los Angeles; but we see now it was the Holy Spirit of God, to bring us to Los Angeles to receive our Pentecost.
Our faith was indeed tested after reaching this city. After three days, I had pneumonia in both lungs, and for days I realized nothing of this world. But praise God He raised me up in answer to the prayer of faith, and I shall never cease to praise Him, that He spared me for this wonderful day of my Pentecost. While in our home in Los Angeles, at times the Spirit would be wonderfully poured out upon us in our morning worship, and then the enemy would thrust sore at us, knowing that His time was short.
About this time, we met a sister in Christ, who told us of the Azusa Street meetings, and that some were speaking in tongues, so we went at once to see if these things were true. We felt the power of God immediately as we entered the meeting. After two or three days, as the invitation was given for those who wished to seek for the baptism of the Holy Ghost, I went forward to the little humble altar. While on the way the enemy said to me, “You, a missionary in Africa twenty years, now going forward to the altar,” I said, yes. I am going forward, for I want all that God has for me, and then and there I gained a real victory in my soul. Then Brother Seymour, Sister Crawford and another Sister laid their hands upon me that I might receive the Holy Ghost. As they prayed, I felt the power go through my body, but did not receive then the full baptism.
We waited on God daily in our home for three weeks, searching the Scriptures, confessing our faults, and getting everything under the blood, even forgetting at times to take food. During this time, while attending the meetings one day, the tongues became a stone of stumbling to me, and a rock of offense, and I immediately went into darkness, which was so great that my dear husband cried to the Lord for me, and I was restored, willing to submit what I did not understand to God. Then the enemy tried to get me discouraged, telling me that this baptism was not for me. I went into my room feeling so discouraged, when the Spirit said to me as plainly as a voice, “How did you receive your justification? How did you receive your sanctification?” I said, Lord, by faith. He then said, “Receive me.” I arose, and felt very happy, praising the Lord. This was on Friday evening and we went into our front room and said we would have a meeting to seek the Spirit just as they did at Brother Seymour’s. So we sang and testified, and then fell on our knees in prayer. As we repeated over and over again, We receive the Holy Ghost, in our simplicity, he came in, and we could not retire until late. Then we asked the Holy Spirit to continue His work in us while we slept.
On Saturday morning at the breakfast table I said, something seems to hinder my perfect freedom, and my husband said, “It may be in regard to your little neighbor; you know she did not receive the gospel, and left off coming in to see you, and so you have left off going in to see her. You have more light than she, and perhaps have done wrong.” The faithful Holy Spirit convicted me, and I said, beginning to cry like a child, Oh, Lord, I see it and fell on my knees. Just as I did this crying “let it all be under the blood,” the Holy Ghost fell upon me in great sweetness and power; and just then I had a wonderful revelation of the blood of Christ making me as clean and innocent as a child, and Jesus was real to me.
I was under the power from early morning till about five at night, prophesying in the Scriptures, and then began to speak in tongues, as the Spirit gave me utterance. I spoke most of the afternoon, having some very sweet revelations concerning the precious blood of Christ, which I trust will never be taken away from me, and may, through the Spirit, be used to glorify my Savior.
Since then I have been shown that what I speak is an African dialect, and concerning the blood of Christ.
And now I follow on to know the Lord more fully and may I be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge; and may have the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.
If any sanctified soul is seeking Pentecost, the way is so simple. Believe and receive, and it is His will to fill your precious soul. – Ardell K. Mead
A BUSINESS MAN’S TESTIMONY OF PENTECOST – (We take the privilege of publishing this testimony from a private letter written to Sister Florence Crawford.)
When I first went into that 9th St. Mission, I was as nearly an infidel as it was possible for one raised as I had been to be. I had persuaded myself that the Bible was not to be taken literally, but figuratively, and had rejected the idea of everlasting punishment, and tried to disbelieve the providence of God; that is, that He interested Himself in us personally.
I thought I was as good as the average church member, notwithstanding I had not been attending church for about five years. I had belonged to a church in Chicago until five years ago. I went into the church in good faith, but when it dawned upon me that what was preached was not expected to be practiced, I just concluded we had been “gold-bricked,” and quit, and had been too indifferent to go to any church again, until I heard of the coming of the Los Angeles Pentecostal people, and I was at the first meeting at 9th Street Mission, out of pure curiosity, expecting to see a fake.
I shall never forget how it made me squirm and writhe in the very depths of my soul when you held up the mirror—the Word of God—with all the dust and cobwebs brushed off, and I got a clear view of myself as I really was. How all the excuses I had piled up to justify myself slipped from under me, and how mean I appeared as I thought of myself as an outcast from God. After I had quit going to church, I had begun going to theaters, and eventually even took an occasional drink with my office companions, and had also gambled a little in mining stock “bucket shop.” There had been a constant unrest of soul, for somehow my conscience would never allow me to get any enjoyment out of sin.
That was my condition when I happened into the Mission. I say happened in; I should say when I was led there; for I now know that I was led there by the Spirit of the living God. Bless His Holy Name forever! For the first time, I realized that to be a true, sincere Christian meant to live without sin at all. It meant in my case even the giving up of tobacco, before I could so much as ask God to have mercy on me.
There is no need of going into the details of the struggle I went through before I surrendered. What I thought I could never do, God did for me. He took away all appetite for tobacco instantly—a habit to which I was a perfect slave—for which I never cease to thank Him.
On Aug. 12th, God made known to me that my past sins were all forgiven, and that I was His child.
Then I heard sanctification explained, saw my need of
it, and sought for that experience. I had a fearful struggle with self, doubt,
and pride, before I finally got all upon the altar, and just gave up, which I
did Sept. 21st. The instant I really let go of everything and said to God, “I
can’t do another thing,” He just laid hold of me and flooded my soul with such
joy and peace and a sense of cleanness, that really it was some time before I
could see how it was possible for me to get anything more and contain it.
But I became hungry for the baptism with the Holy Ghost and power, and began seeking for that precious gift of God. Then commenced a battle royal sure enough. It seemed that all the powers of darkness were determined to prevent me from obtaining the priceless blessing. When the devil would get me cornered where it seemed as though God had forsaken me, I would always beat him back with this, “Well, one thing I do know, I have been cleansed from all sin and have no desire whatever to sin, and that is a grand thing for me.” Then I would find the most precious scripture just when needed to exactly fit my case, and again take courage.
And so the battle went on for over two months till Nov. 25th, which you will remember was the night you laid your hands on me for my healing; and I received both healing for my lungs and the infilling of God’s Holy Spirit. Glory to His Holy Name forevermore!
I shall never forget that night. Why, I was raised from the depths of despair to the very throne of our God. (Right here the Spirit stopped me and sang through me praises to my blessed Redeemer and King, my Master whom to serve is my greatest joy.)
As long as the memory of that blessed night (Nov. 25) remains with me, I shall ever say, “God bless Sister Crawford abundantly and use her to encourage many, many others in similar need.”
Now all these blessings have been a free gift to me. I have not a single mark to my credit. God had a stubborn, unbelieving, thankless child to deal with when He picked me up, and He just had to have wonderful love and patience to bear with me. But He did. And now I am eternally His, sealed unto the day of redemption. Praise His name. Hallelujah! I feel a burning desire to see others possess the same blessing. I could tell you of wonderful victory and blessed seasons since my baptism. When I think of what Jesus has done for me, I feel as though I could go through fire for Him, but of myself I can do nothing. He has put an abiding love in my heart for Him and for my fellow man.
Your brother in Christ, -J.G. Bourman. 490 24th St., Oakland
WHAT THE PENTECOST DID FOR ONE FAMILY – Eight years ago, I was shown that there was more than justification and sanctification for us; there was a power the disciples had that I must have. Being placed in the position I was, as superintendent of home and foreign missions in Winnipeg, Canada, a city of a hundred thousand, I certainly felt my lack of power. I was called of God to give up my business, worth at least five or six thousand a year to me. The Lord had for me more than I then possessed; I got to the point where I must have all God had for me.
Just as I decided to take charge of a church and circuit offered me, the Lord spoke to me and said, “You must go to Los Angeles and take all your family.” Afterward He spoke to my dear wife and said, “Get ready and go with your husband.” Just before leaving for Los Angeles on the train, a friend passed me a copy of the Apostolic Faith. I was much interested and was determined to see for myself, but with the thought that this speaking in tongues was of the devil and I was going to do all in my power to stamp it out. After a trip of nearly 3500 miles, we arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday morning, Nov. 29. I left my family at a hotel and proceeded with my son on a search for Azusa Mission. After I was there a short time, a lady got up and testified, and the power of God fell on her and she began to tremble. I had seen enough of God’s work in my experience to know when He was working. I at once left my seat, and went over and stood beside her. Of course I showed myself as a spy, but did not mind that, as I had promised several of God’s people before leaving Manitoba that I would make a report of this work and let them know if it was of God or the devil. Well, glory to God, after this sister trembled for a few minutes, she started to speak in an unknown tongue to me, and to my surprise, after she had uttered a few sentences, she spoke in English, giving the interpretation of what she said. And the Spirit at once changed her tongue back again to the unknown tongue. Thus she spoke and translated quite a while. Glory to God for the convincing power.
My son and I then left the room, and as we went out he said, “Well, papa, what do you think of it?” I said, “I do not know, but this I do know, the power is in that place and God’s Spirit had hold of that woman.”
My wife and I attended the meetings and it was not long till we got real hungry for the glorious gift that God has for us, His people. Now, as there is quite a bit of Scotch in me, I must be thoroughly convinced before I will give in. Knowing part of different Indian languages and trading dialects used throughout Canada, I said, “Now God, if you want to convince me that this if of you, just let some of the Christians speak in a tongue that I understand.” Glory to His name. I thought He would take someone that I did not know and then I would have to find out whether they had ever been up there; but instead of that He took a young lady from the same place I came from, and put her under the power, gave her the Pentecostal gift and made her sing an Indian song that I had known since I was a boy, and I knew that she never was closer than 1,200 miles from the Indians, and had never been taught by anyone. She then changed into another unknown tongue, which afterwards proved to be the Armenian language. After speaking for a few moments in this tongue, she drew my attention by signs, as her English was gone, to an Armenian man near by who was greatly interested in what she was saying. I stepped over to him and asked him if he understood what she was saying. He replied, “I no speak your tongue, but that lady speak my tongue and talk to me about Jesus.” The perspiration broke out upon the man like beads, and he commenced to tremble; and this was the means of his conversion. Glory to God, this is what tongues are doing.
I asked the Lord then to convince my wife and give it to her, if it was for me. And it was not long till she got in earnest about the matter and God got her to the end of herself, and opened heaven, and let the promised gift fall, and she began to speak in unknown tongues. I thought I never saw her so happy, and glory to God, she is still happy.
This made me very hungry and I was determined to have it, so I went in with all my might. But to my surprise I found I was not nearly as high up the mount as I thought. I found out I did not possess the experience of sanctification, and was a long ways from living the sanctified life, in God’s sight. While looking on the lives of others that professed it, I justified myself in thinking I compared with their experience, but this was not what God wanted. I had to be pure and clean in His sight. With the help of kind friends, the love of God, and one dear saint who interceded for me thirteen hours prostrate on the floor, I was brought to the knowledge that I had my family between me and God and thought more of them than of Him, as well as having many other things in the way which the ordinary sanctified person may not think amounts to much. Now as I got all of self and the rest of the rubbish out of my heart, God gave me the witness to my entire satisfaction. I knew I had a clean heart. Glory to God. Hallelujah to His name. Are you there, reader? If not, dig down till the old Adam nature and roots of bitterness are out of the way. Then He will breathe on you and you shall receive the Holy Ghost.
I tarried and prayed and in about nine days, He baptized me with the Holy Ghost and gave me the Bible evidence of speaking and singing in tongues. Upwards of half an hour my language was taken from me and God used me as He saw fit. More than that, since I came here, the Lord took my little girl, just eleven years old, saved, sanctified, and baptized her with the Holy Ghost and she is now speaking in six or seven different languages, two of which have been interpreted, Spanish and Latin. The other day while she gave her testimony in the Azusa Mission, the Spirit spoke through her in a plain, distinct Latin tongue. At the same time, she raised her hand and pointed with her finger straight at a stranger, and called him by his own name, and told him to go downstairs in the big meeting and tell his experience, and go out and preach the Gospel of Christ. Now this was an educated man who had been preaching infidelity for 19 years and had spoken to as many as 7,000 people in one meeting, who had paid 50 cents each to hear him. He was simply all broken up and went downstairs, taking the child with him. He told his story, saying, “This child preached to me, and of all the sermons I ever heard this was the most powerful.” He declared he was willing to go and preach Jesus, got down on his knees and began to seek God.
Yet people will say, “What is the use of the tongue?” This is one instance, I have attended those meetings for nearly three months, and during that time there has been scarcely a day that something has not happened through interpretation of tongues or someone being present who understood what had been said, which brought conviction on someone and started them to seeking God.
Still more, the Lord has taken hold of my eldest boy,
sixteen years of age, who was a wayward boy and was fighting hard against the
evidence of tongues; saved him, sanctified him and baptized him with the Holy
Ghost, and spoke through him in unknown tongues, and called him to preach the
Gospel. Glory to God. Thanks be to His holy name for what He has done for me
and my family since I came down here. I do not know how to praise Him enough.
--R.J. Scott, Supt. Home and Foreign Missions, Winnipeg.