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1901 Charles Fox Parham
Director of Bethel Bible College. Topeka, Kansas Born in Iowa 1873, felt a call into the ministry at age nine. At fourteen became an exhorter in the Methodist church, at sixteen enrolled in college for training for the ministry. After switching to the study of medicine, was afflicted with rheumatic fever, which he thought was brought on by his rebellion, prayed for healing, was restored, finished college at age nineteen and began ministry in the Methodist Church in Kansas.
Left the Methodist and from then on championed non-denominationalism. In 1898 opened a "faith home" in Topeka, and sponsored a magazine, The Apostolic Faith. He opened an informal Bible School in an unfinished mansion known as Stone's folly. Bethel Bible College was only open for one year, dedicated to the intensive study of the Bible in a spiritual atmosphere to develop an effective witness for Christ. Forty students from a variety of denominational backgrounds, and mostly mature, some of whom had already been involved in ministry.
The Bible was the only text, emphasis on prayer, and practical service, Parham's mission and home visitation. After studying topics such as repentance, conversion, sanctification, healing, and the second coming, the students were assigned the topic of the Biblical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Parham returned on December 31, 1900, and the students reported their findings.
Agnes Ozman was the first student to experience the fullness of the Holy spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Other students began to seek, although urged by Agnes "not to seek tongues, but to seek for the Holy Ghost."
An evangelistic crusade was launched to spread the message. Parham held meetings in Nevada, Missouri in 1903, and then in El Dorado Springs. Mary Arthur from Galena was prayed for and healed of seriously impaired vision. She invited Parham to Galena, first meeting in her home, then in a tent, and finally in the Grand Leader Building seating two thousand. Eight hundred were converted, over one thousand healed, and many filled with the Spirit with speaking in tongues.
An invitation came from Texas from Walter Oyler and his wife who had been in Galena, Kansas. A revival was held in Orchard, Texas, and a visitor from Houston, Mrs. John C. Calhoun invited Parham there. The revival spread throughout the area. To train workers, Parham opened a faith Bible school in Houston, one of the students was a black holiness preacher named W. J. Seymour.
1905 Welsh Revival
Probably the most significant predecessor to the Pentecostal revival in America was the revival in Wales. Prayerful preparation had gone on for many years, but the spark was kindled through a young miner by the name of Evan Roberts. In the fall of 1904 he felt compelled through a vision to return home from the college he was attending.
At twenty-six, he had already spent thirteen years praying for a visitation of the Holy Spirit. Getting permission from his pastor, Evan spoke to a small group who remained following the regular prayer meeting at Moriah Chapel in Laughor. Even though this first meeting was a disappointment, more people gathered the next night at a small mission chapel nearby; they heard Evan speak concerning being filled with the Holy Spirit. Each night that week he preached, and on Sunday evening sixty young people committed themselves to Christ.
The following night the meeting lasted until 3 a.m., it had been an unusual mixture of repentance and joy. Just twelve days after Robert's first meeting with seventeen people, over eight hundred tried to get into the little Moriah chapel. People began opening their homes for prayer meetings, these soon overflowed into the streets.
The revival fervor spread to nearby Aberdare where Evan and five Spirit filled women (ages eighteen - twenty), and then to over two dozen other cities and towns. "Spontaneous prayer meetings began in the mines, factories, schools and shops. Even the amusement parks were filled with a holy awe as brigades of evangelists swept through them. Men who entered taverns to order drinks left them untouched as conviction and the fear of God came upon them."
1906 Asuza Street Mission, Los Angeles, California
W. J. Seymour became convinced of the truth of the Pentecostal message while sitting under Parham's teaching in the training school in Houston.
In Louisiana the pastor of the First Baptist Church, Joseph Smale, after visiting the outstanding Welsh Revival, began prayer meetings in 1905. These included spontaneous worship and many people were healed. His enthusiasm caused difficulty with his board, and Pastor Smale left the church to start New Testament Assembly. There continued to be much prayer for revival in this church as well as in numerous "cottage prayer meetings."
Neeley Terry was associated with a small Nazarene church in Louisiana. She visited Houston in 1905, and when she return she told about the "very godly man" she had met while in Houston, W. J. Seymour. This Nazarene church then invited him to preach in their church. His first sermon was on the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), even though at that time he had not yet been filled with the Spirit with speaking in tongues. That same afternoon, when he returned to the small church, the door was locked, and he was told that the church believed that he was teaching false doctrine, and that he was no longer welcome. So he moved his meetings to a private home of some Baptists on Bonnie Brae St.
On April 9, 1906, the Spirit fell upon this small group of African American believers. A former Methodist church building was arranged for at 312 Azusa Street. (The building had been converted into a tenement house.) A space on the first floor was cleared out to accommodate thirty-forty people, planks set on nail kegs.
The revival continued for three years. W. J. Seymour served as the leader. He was humble, simple, relatively uneducated, obscure, and had a notably defective eye. A news reporter was sent with the obvious intent of exposing this event as a ridiculous "circus". However, during the meeting a woman began speaking out in tongues, the very language of this foreign born reporter, confronting him with his sin.
Afterward he found this woman, and verified that she had not know what she was saying, and the reporter declared that he would accept Jesus. He told his supervisor that he could not write the article as instructed, but would be willing to write an accurate account. The newspaper didn't want that, and terminated his services.
Visitors came from many parts of the nation, as well as many Christian workers and missionaries. One such person was Elder Sturdevant, an African American preacher on his way to Africa, brought the Pentecostal message to New York City in December of 1906. Word spread throughout the states as well as Canada, and Norway.