Sister Etter and the Miracles

This is the day that … Maria Woodworth-Etter was born in Ohio, in 1844.

Roberts Liardon refers to her as “the grandmother of the Pentecostal movement” (God’s Generals, page 47).

In her autobiography she tells how she was converted whilst “going under the water” at her baptism. She was 13 years of age (page 7). Almost immediately she says she heard God’s call to preach – and this in a day when women preachers were frowned upon.

Marriage to P.H. Woodworth resulted in six children being born, five of whom died in childhood. Nor did her husband share her desire for ministry. She divorced her first husband (1891) and married Samuel Etter in 1902.

Sister Etter, as she was known, preached to thousands, sharing the gospel and praying for the sick. Significant for hundreds and even thousands in her meetings was the experience of falling in a trance, akin to the frontier meetings of an earlier time.

In her preaching ‘holiness’ was her initial emphasis. By 1885 she claimed 500 were converted every week at her meetings. Then she began to emphasise ‘tongues’ and ‘healing’. Thousands flocking to her 8000-seat tent meetings.

She wrote many books – including one that foretold the destruction of San Francisco by a tidal wave in 1890! “Thousands fled to the hills because of her prophecy” (Dictionary of Pentecostalism and Charismatic Movements, page 901). Her book, Acts of the Holy Ghost, impacted many who held it as one of their most treasured texts. One of the Cambridge Seven missionaries, Stanley Smith, gave such testimony.

And most odd were her trances. Sometimes during a service she would “stand like a statue for an hour or more with her hands raised…” (ibid, page 901). To her, “lack of physical manifestation was a sign of apostasy!” (God’s Generals, page 55).

Healing people by “punching them in the stomach” or “whacking them in the neck” was one of her methods (page 73). It is believed Smith Wigglesworth adopted this method from her. He preached in her Tabernacle in Indianapolis after her death.

Whatever one’s theological leaning, Maria Woodworth-Etter must be regarded as one of the most interesting and influential figures in the history of Christendom. She proclaimed the Pentecostal message before Azusa Street and the emergence of the organised Pentecostal groups. Her miracles, preaching and impact did much to open people’s eyes to the restoration of New Testament manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

For a more detailed account of her life and ministry visit: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/199901/086_woodsworth_etter.cfm

This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.

Donald Gee – Pentecostal Pioneer

This is the day that …Donald Gee was born in London, in 1891.

He was converted at the age of 14, under a Welsh revival preacher, Seth Joshua, who also influenced the young Evan Roberts. When a missionary lady asked him if he would be a missionary when he grew up he was troubled by the question of total surrender to God.

He attended Pentecostal prayer meetings and there met a Baptist minister in need of an organist. Gee offered his services and enjoyed seven years of tutoring under this man of God. During the first world war he had opportunity to preach in a country hall. He promoted the Second Coming of Christ and the Pentecostal experience, which people “tarried” for in those days.

At the age of 29 he became pastor of a Church in Edinburgh, and in 1924 was “one of the 15 foundation members of the Assemblies of God in Great Britain”.  Eventually he was chairman of its board.

His Bible teaching ministry took him around the world.  He founded and edited World Pentecost magazine on behalf of the global Pentecostal movement.

Initially seeing no need for “teachers” in the Pentecostal experience he later came to realise the deep need for clear doctrine and effective instruction. In 1951 he was appointed principal of the A.O.G. Bible College in Surrey, England, where he practiced his conviction on a new generation of ministers. He did much to promote the ministry gift of ‘Teacher’ among Pentecostals.

The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements describes him as “renowned for his judicious counsel and the thoughtful care with which he avoided extreme positions on issues of contention within the Pentecostal movement”.  He was known as “The Apostle of Balance” (pages 330-1).

Lester Sumrall, who knew him personally, tells how Dr Gee “often said, ‘What we need is balance’” (Pioneers of Faith, page 77).

This man of God died in a taxi on 20 July, 1966 – returning home from the funeral of one of his best friends.

At his own funeral John Carter, his friend for over 40 years said, “A gifted writer has laid down his pen. An eminent Bible expositor will teach no more. A distinguished editor has vacated his chair. A renowned author has concluded his last volume. A veteran leader has left our ranks. A great warrior has fought his last battle. Our friend Donald Gee has fallen asleep.” (from Pentecostal Pioneers Remembered by Keith Malcomson)