Revival In America
In 1904 a young white evangelist by the name of Frank Bartleman began meeting with another man praying daily for revival in Los Angeles, California. Day and night the men toiled in prayer seeking the blessings and power of revival. Fueled in faith by the revival that by now had begun to sweep through Wales under the ministry of Evan Roberts the men continued through many hindrances and setbacks to pray for a like outpouring for America.
Frank struggled in prayer amidst financial lack, and illness, striking and nearly killing his oldest child, believing that Yahveh would honor their efforts and bless America as He had done for Evan Roberts in Wales. Because the cause of revival was central to his everyday life, and financial support for evangelists was almost non-existent in those days he couldn”t afford to pay for a doctor”s care for his family in case of illness. Prayer was always the means by which every need was answered and every blessing secured. The Lord used the oft times uncomfortable situations to develop his faith and deepen his dependency upon his Master. So when revival was finally given His servant would be a quality vessel for the long hall.
While the Lord was preparing Frank Bartleman in Los Angeles, he was also preparing William Joseph Seymour through entirely different circumstances. Seymour was a black preacher who, although never experienced the gift of speaking in other tongues, fully believed in the value of it and preached on preparing yourself to receive it. In the south as well as many other parts of America in those days, black saints and white saints attended different churches. Seymour finally grew tired of the racial bigotry of the south and decided to move north. Through a series of circumstance and a couple more moves he finally found himself in Topeka, Kansas, connected to a white man by the name of Parham. He convinced Parham to let him enter his Bible College by promising to sit outside of the classroom of white would-be ministers to learn his teachings. In this way Parham became Seymour”s mentor.
After a while Seymour led a woman visiting Topeka, Kansas, from California, into the Baptism of the (Holy Spirit) Ruach HaKodesh and the gift of speaking in other tongues. When she returned home she spoke of her experience to her pastor who immediately invited Seymour out to minister in her church. Seymour, seeing this invitation as his own Macedonian call, immediately told Parham of the invitation and left for California. After only one service, however, the pastor decided she didn”t agree with His doctrinal stand on the issue. She, subsequently, locked the Church door on him refusing to let him speak in her pulpit ever again. Seymour, being no stranger to rejection, decided to simply move his pulpit to a private home where he taught continuously on seeking the gift of other tongues.
Before long the crowds grew requiring the group to reposition themselves in a larger building more suitable for a church. By 1906, Seymour and Bartleman came together meeting daily in prayer on behalf of revival. Shortly after this, revival broke out and daily meetings became a norm. The unique thing about the Azusa street outpouring was the fact that it began with both black and white ministers at the head, therefore the whole revival environment continued to be interracial. It was interracial and touched every sector of society. The black and the white, the rich and the poor, the servants and the employers all came together and held all spiritual things in common. Racial and economic lines were lost in light of the common joy of being in the manifested presence of the Lord in a way not experienced before by that generation. Some time later, Parham came to speak at Seymour”s invitation, but when he came against the interracial services so strongly from the pulpit, he was dismissed never to return.
Shortly after the outpouring began, a major earthquake occurred in San Francisco, its impact being felt throughout southern California. This caused no little stir among West Coast inhabitants. People began flocking to the little church on Azusa Street in droves. The seekers were searching, not only for the new Spiritual experience, but many were looking for salvation as well. Before long the news spread, not only across America, but would-be seekers came from around the world.
Nations such as Canada, South Africa, England, Norway, Sweden, India, China, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, and Australia were greatly touched and impacted by the Pentecostal outpouring of Azusa Street. Many Pentecostal denominations as it were, were born out of this outpouring as well. Some of these included The Assemblies of God, which does not really consider itself a denomination but nevertheless bears all the earmarks of one, Church of God in Christ, and the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Canada.
Although this was the greatest outpouring of the Spirit in many decades, forever changing the face of Christianity, bursting upon the Church with rivers of joy and new life, it did finally succumb to the problems of its era. The first and foremost formidable opposition to the success of the gift of revival was the racial issue. Also, as in so many other revivals before and since, man, taking the glory that belongs only to our Father, greatly hindered and, along with the racial issues in America, eventually brought the outpouring to an end. The joy that our Father once felt in giving the outpouring of His Spirit turned to grief because of man”s self-seeking.
Back in the early 1900”s after the great 1906 revival came to an end, the angel of the Lord visited John G. Lake. I learned of this visit through his daughter and son in law who were friends of mine before they went on to be with the Lord. I would like to share just a portion of what was discussed between John and the angel.
The angel of the Lord took him to South Africa. While hovering above Johannesburg, the angel told John, "The heart of Jesus was once gladdened through the glory, the grace and the power of God manifested here, but human pride, formalism and a lack of faith have brought disappointment to the heart of Him we love. The glory will return, and the tried and true, those who have suffered and labored and prayed, will be rewarded, but, all self-seekers shall be dethroned."
He stopped in several nations before returning to the U.S., each time sharing the heart of the Father concerning that nation with John.
Back in Portland, Oregon, the angel told John, "Human selfishness and human pride have consumed and dissipated the very glory and heavenly power that God once gave from heaven to this movement as you have beheld tonight." He was speaking of the Azusa Street outpouring, which had powerfully affected the many nations and areas the angel and John had traveled to together.
Once John had seen all that the angel was sent to show him and had heard all that the angel was sent to tell him, they were about to part company. John, sensing the angel”s deep concern, called out to him one last time, "Angel, these are all struggling for want of an ideal. What constitutes real Pentecost? What ideal should be held out before the minds of men as the will of God exhibited through a move like this?"
The angel then took John”s Bible from him and turned to the book of Acts highlighting many Scriptures and events. Then he said: "This is Pentecost as God gave it through the heart of Jesus. Strive for it; contend for this, teach the people to pray for this. For, this alone will meet the necessity of the human heart, and this alone will have the power to overcome the forces of darkness. The only way into the heart of God, John, is through prayer, so teach the people to pray."
First, in our preparation process in America, we must seek to remove human boundaries among the various nationalities represented in the body of Christ, seeking love and understanding. Our heavenly Father is the Father of all people. Even so, as the Bible says there is one God, one Spirit, one Church, and one faith, and He is the Father of us all. For this very reason, just as a human parent is grieved when their children do not get along, our Heavenly Father grieves over our dysfunctional incompatibilities. Join with me in prayer that our Father will help us bring the Spirit of brotherhood into the Church and heal the breach among the Churches” people groups. Pray that He will give us an understanding heart to heal the wounds that separate us so that we may be one Church to His glory.
Second, as leaders we must take this preparatory time to humble ourselves and turn from the ways of kingdom building and seek to honor His kingdom alone, preferring one another in love becoming nameless and faceless for the sake of His glory. Please pray with us that this will be accomplished deep in our hearts in time for the glory of the Lord to come.
Little would hurt me as bad as American leaders grieving the heart of the One we love because we turned His glory into another venture of Kingdom building and self-serving, and in the end bringing shame to His glorious Name because we weren”t ready to decrease that He might freely increase in our nation.
There is one more thing that brought great hindrance to the 1906 revival that is not mentioned in most narratives about that revival. I have found it to be true in more recent outpourings of the Lord as well and that is immorality. Let our prayer be that whomever and as many as our Father desires to use in this next revival, will stay morally pure.
We have experienced the joyful benefits of the Azusa Street revival all these years, let us also learn from its failures, that we will not repeat them.
Please pray my dear Friends. Pray with us and for us as we all with united heart seek to prepare America for revival.
Nita (LaFond) Johnson