It was late in my life when I came upon the ministry of Marie Woodworth Etter. One Sunday afternoon a friend was reading her book Signs and Wonders while sitting on his lawn, when the sky turned a deep red in the West with streaks of yellow and orange running through it. He called me over and we sat and marveled at the sight. That's when he showed me the book and we just looked in amazement at what God had done through this one woman. We could see other people looking at the sky and asking each other what it could be. But as I looked at the book I realized that God had wanted to say something to both my friend and me with this event. We showed the book to several other people whose eyes lit up when they saw the cover which had the same colors as the sky and the title Signs and Wonders.
Before there was a great Welsh revival or Azusa Street there was Marie Woodworth Etter, before there was a John G. Lake or Smith Wigglesworth or even Katherine Kuhlman, there was a Marie Woodworth Etter. Mother Etter as she was called blazed a trail that is still used today by any one calling themselves Pentecostal or Charismatic. As always God called the most unlikely person, poor, uneducated, frail, and homely looking to confuse the wise. Raised at a time when woman could not yet vote, let alone stand in a church and preach, God could not have picked a weaker and more awkward vessel.
Born in the summer of 1844 in Lisbon Ohio to Samuel and Matilda Underwood she was one of four daughters. Samuel Underwood was a poor man who drank heavily and died of sunstroke while working leaving seven children fatherless and in deep poverty. Marie would have to skip education and go to work to help support the family. She was saved by the age of thirteen and turned all her attention to Jesus and studying the bible. Early on she felt the call of God on her life and prepared by trying to get an education and marrying, believing that a woman with an education and a home would be more readily received by the religious people of her day.
She married Philo Harries Woodworth but soon learned that he had no interest in the ministry and that his heart was on farming at which they both failed, this marriage produced six children. The times were very hard and the children became sick and started to die, one after the other till there was but one left. All this time Jesus had been calling her to the ministry but she always had an excuse, sometimes it was that she could not leave the children, other times that she was scared of what men would think of a woman preacher or that she could not speak right. Still the Lord waited till she gave in and started to preach a little at a time. She started in Quaker meetings since they were not prejudice against woman preachers and little by little gained enough confidence to hold bigger and bigger meetings. Her husband was opposed to all of this and after the death of the children became an adulterer till Marie could stand it no more and twenty six years after their marriage, she divorced him.
Next Maria met Samuel Etter who was a strong believer in the Lord Jesus and became a big help in her ministry. They were married in 1902 and for twelve years they toiled together until his death in 1914. In the end she would lose five children and two husbands but she never stopped preaching and demonstrating the power of God with great miracles till the very end. In her older life she was sometimes so sick and weak that she would be carried to the pulpit and preached from a chair but still the people came first by the hundreds than by the thousands. Controversy followed her ministry from the very start, first because she was a woman, than because she had no formal education but more than anything else because of the power she demonstrated from the Holy Spirit. Not since the early apostles has anyone been persecuted as much by both the church and the society at large.
The greatest mystery in the universe is God and his working with men. The power of God Almighty cannot be contained on the earth or in a church setting; this is something that upsets many a wannabe preachers and even established folks. Manifestations of God and the Holy Spirit come in all forms, shapes and sizes. If these manifestations do not fall in line with what any observer feels is right there is hell to pay. This was Marie's biggest problem, the magnificent manifestations of the Holy Spirit in all types of signs and wonders which included visions, trances, and prophesies along with fantastic miracles of healing. It is told that she could fall into a trance for hours at a time than later tell the congregation of her experience with Jesus and other angelic host. Soon she was being called the trance evangelist and being blamed for hypnotizing the people, which she denied. But she could not stop even if she wanted to because no one can control the Holy Spirit once he is let out of the box, which in this case was Marie Woodworth Etter.
It has become so easy to blame any manifestation on Satan as if God could not control his own realm. Men see more power in the devil and love to give him credit when things don't match their own form of religion or structure. When these men believe that they have figured out the perfect doctrine and have become comfortable with the God they have created, anything that does not fit or seems to go against this is called witchcraft or worse. Those who have to control everything will always see the Holy Spirit as the enemy, but as nitro glycerin which cannot be shaken or it would explode, so is the Spirit to those who think they have it all figured out. These were the men and women who slandered and persecuted Mother Etter right to her death. She passed away at the age of eighty to be with the Lord and receive her crown.
Today there are still many web pages blaming Marie for everything from being an agent of the devil, to faking the many hundreds of healing that were produced in her meetings. The times never change, men are still threaten by what they do not know or understand. This sister wore herself out crisscrossing the United States and watching her family die of while trying to help and save as many as she could. How narrow minded and cruel of people who have never led one soul to the Lord or given a meal to the hungry, visited the sick, or volunteered an hour in a prison ministry.
About Author / Additional Info:
For more information on Maria Woodworth Etter go to http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/199901/086_woodsworth_etter.cfm http://www.icwhp.org/about_maria_woodworth_etter.html