Heaven Sent Revival

The Los Angeles Outpouring, 1906. The Los Angeles Outpouring, 1906.


"It would be a great mistake to attribute the Pentecostal beginning in Los Angeles to any one man, either in prayer or in preaching...Pentecost did not drop suddenly out of heaven. God was with us in large measure for a long time before the final outpouring."

Pastor Joseph Smale (1867- )

Born in England in 1867. He was trained under the prince of preachers in Spurgeon's College in London and stepped out into public ministry in this great city as a street preacher. He then pastored a church in Britain for three years after which time he resigned from this church and immigrated to the US, becoming pastor of a Baptist church in Prescott, Arizona. Then he moved to southern California where he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in January 1898.


From the start he preached regeneration by the Spirit and the necessity of having a new heart. He was more of an Evangelist than as a Pastor. At one point the great evangelist D.L. Moody ministered as a guest in this pulpit. In 1902 a group with leadership responsibilities within the church asked for his resignation, bringing accusations from the congregation against him of everything from being unfriendly to being a dictator. After much talk he dissolved their arguments and won them over.


After preaching a series on the eternal punishment of unbelievers and suffering a time of bad health he requested a sabbatical. During a long tour he returned to Britain for a visit. While in Britain he heard of the mighty Welsh Revival under the ministry of Evan Roberts;he was compelled to go see for himself.  


He returned to his church in June 1905 on fire desiring to see the same visitation come to his church. His first message was "The Great Welsh Revival." They began to meet every day and night for meetings. The motto of all was "Pentecost has not yet come, but it is coming." Prayer and expectation marked these gatherings. Great conviction began to spread and people and preachers from various churches gathered in from across the city and elsewhere to hear the Word of the Lord and to meet with God. Smale seemed to prophesy to those gathered of things to come, of a "speedy return to the apostolic gifts of the church."  Prayer not only ascended for this church but for the City, nation and for a world wide revival. These meetings were spontaneous almost running themselves. The whole congregation moved as one just as in the Welsh Revival, testimonies, praise and prayer came forth with great liberty. Many souls were being saved and the saints prepared for an outpouring. These meetings lasted for fifteen weeks bringing them to September.


The church officials could not stand this new emphasis on revival. They complained of too much noise, confusion and change. They wanted to return to how it was before. With the choice of stopping the revival or leaving, Smale gave in his resignation. The last words written by the clerk that night in the minutes was "May God have mercy on this church for rejecting His anointed." At this time Frank Bartleman went to talk to him feeling that the lord was maybe cutting him loose for the evangelistic field or to spread the fire in other places but Smale felt differently. Within two weeks about 190 members followed him which included a number of leaders. These were joined by others who had gathered in from elsewhere in the city. They soon started The New Testament Church which met in an old theatre, Burbank Hall. Other tests and trials needed to be past through. A rich lady offered money to build a new church, but by the grace of God soon withdrew her offer. They would soon have been consumed with building rather than praying. Then came a drift towards intellectualism but this also was overcome by the saints praying through.


On Easter Sunday 1906 after Smale had preached he called for testimonies. A coloured lady called Jennie Evans Moore, who had left with Smale to form the New Testament Church, stood and testified. She told of her experience three days before in a cottage on Bonnie Brae street where the Holy Ghost had fallen and where she along with several others had spoken in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance. She then raised her voice and gave a message in tongues which was immediately interpreted in English that "this is that prophesied by Joel." This caused a great stir amongst the people, many asked is this Pentecost. They continued earnestly seeking the Lord. Many of his members began to attend the various other missions like Azusa in the city. But in June the New Testament Church received her Pentecost. Men and woman all over the hall were prostrate on the floor for hours. Powerful praise arose to God and many wept under the heavy presence of the Holy Spirit. This led into several all nights of prayer. Pastor Smale never received the Baptism in the Holy Ghost with the sign of tongues but he was considered by all to be God's Moses to bring them to Jordon, other leaders would lead them across and onwards. 

Frank Bartleman. (1871-1936) Frank Bartleman. (1871-1936)

'The early church came forth from the upper room fresh in her "first love" (Revelation 2v4), baptized with the Holy Spirit, filled with God, possessing both the graces and the gifts of the Spirit, and with 100 percent consecration for God. This was the secret of her power. She was all for God, and God was all for her. This principle will apply in all ages, both individually and collectively. No sacrifice on the altar means no fire. The fire of God never falls on an empty altar. The greater the sacrifice, the more the fire. '    

"Azussa Street" by Frank Bartleman.


William J. Seymour & Azusa. William J. Seymour & Azusa.

Seymour's parents had both been born into slave families, his father served in the first all-black regiment of the United States Army. When born his parents were Catholic. In 1891 he set of on his travels across America seeking to escape the poverty and oppression of the South and to find a better life elsewhere. In Indianapolis he was converted and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. For the blacks of this time the church was the only real place of freedom and liberty which they found by faith in Christ.  From the beginning Seymour was always a strong premillennialist, such views were rejected by those Methodists around him. He soon joined the new more militant holiness movement that rose up out of the ashes of Methodism and also joined various more radical groups within this movement. Amongst these believers there was a genuine unity between black and whites because of the Blood of Jesus. Amongst them also he was taught concerning an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Ghost that was to come before Jesus returned. In these churches holiness, healing and the second coming were preached.


It was after he was afflicted by a severe case of smallpox which left his face scarred and left him blind in one eye, that he finally answered the call of God which he had long resisted. In 1905 he arrived in Houston, here he took over a temporary position of pastoring a church. It was also here that for the first time he heard of believers in Topeka who had been baptized in the Holy ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Late that year Charles F. Parnham moved to Houston where he opened a short term Bible School similar to the one in Topeka. Seymour attended all meetings and enrolled in the five week school. It was an entensive environment of prayer, fasting, Bible study and evangelistic outreach. Because of segregation laws he had to listen to lessons from the hall and was not allowed to come to the altar along with the whites. From this time he was persuaded by the Word of God that tongues was the scriptural sign of the baptism. At times he preached by Parham's side to those in black area's. Seymour felt God calling him to go to California. Those at the school helped raise the money for his journey and sent him with God's blessing expecting him to return in about a month.


When he arrived in Los Angeles in 1906 the lynching of blacks had reached a high in America. God had chosen a weak one eyed newly arrived black preacher to stand at the centre of what he was about to do.  A small group of simple believers had been praying for three years for the power of God in order to reach sinners. It was to these Seymour came. Meetings started at the end of February, after several meetings he was locked out of the meeting place mainly because of his belief in the Millennium and his belief in the sign of tongues. He found himself without a place to preach, a roof over his head or money in his pocket. Invited to stay with a new friend he turned to the Lord in a time of prayer and fasting. For a few years it had been his normal pattern to spend several hours a day in prayer.


Throughout March a small group of believers gathered at Bonnie Brae Avenue where Seymour continued to preach. One day as he preached on Acts 2v4 the Holy Ghost fell upon all those gathered. One lady called Jennie Moore (who later became Seymour's wife) broke forth in various tongues interpreting each in English, she then went to the piano and began to play as she sang in tongues even though she had never played before. Others fell into trances for as long as five hours, this meeting overflowed into the front yard with one brother preaching and prophesying. This meeting lasted for three days and nights. The porch of the house became the pulpit and the street the church, hundreds were being saved, healed and filled with the Holy Ghost.


On the third day Seymour received his baptism at 4 in the morning after an all night of prayer. During these early days all was spontaneous, people were being filled without being prayed for, hands laid on them or urged to anything, it was just an outpouring on hungry souls. Word spread widely in the city and a building was sought.


An old mission was found on Azusa Street down a dirt lane. The building was very rough, it was more of a horse barn than anything, sawdust was scattered on the dirt floor and to some eyes it was not suitable for people at all. But in the middle of this humble building a pulpit was set up made of two wooden crates and around this seating was arranged in a square. This mission would be called the Apostolic Faith Mission. They started with about a hundred people, soon growing to 800 and then 1200 with no room to enter. That summer in just one service they baptised about 500 new converts. Amongst those who gathered it seemed every colour and nation was represented.


The upstairs room was kept for prayer, it became a present day upper room where men and woman sought the baptism and healing. Lining its walls in later times were all sorts of things like crutches left by those who were healed by God. Offerings were never taken, a box was left for free-will offerings. From here Seymour published his paper called The Apostolic Faith which eventually had a distribution of 50'000 for each issue worldwide.


For three years meetings continued like this without a break. It was one continuous service. The building was never empty. As a result of this a great many mighty conversions came about. There were many testimonies of sceptics converted through the supernatural operation of tongues in the meetings. They believed this outpouring was power for service, to reach a lost world.


In those early days there was an order and guarding of the work, Seymour said "this gospel cost too much to run off into fanaticism." Tongues were not aloud during preaching, attendance to the Word was primary and soul saving came next. If someone got too loud Seymour called them to order and was known to rebuke people publicly who ran off in the flesh. His manner of preaching was plain, simple, fervent, direct, controlled and anointed with the power of the Holy Ghost. He spoke with great love in the fear of God. He was noted for spending most of the time in meetings seated behind the shoe box pulpit with his head in the top one in a constant state of quiet prayer. He was a humble, meek, usable man of God. One brother said of him "His power is in his weakness. He seems to maintain a helpless dependence on God." Another said "His strength is in his conscious weakness and lowliness before God."


The noise of this work spread across the city, nation and world, Pentecost had come. Within two to three years Pentecostal works had been established in 50 countries.

Parham & Topeka. Parham & Topeka.


Heaven Sent Revival