But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. 1 Corinthians 1:27
In the world we live in today William Joseph Seymour would never be regarded as a pillar of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movement. Born into extreme poverty, the son of a former slave and without an education, he is considered a pioneer and the father of the modern Pentecostal movement.
He was especially known for his deep conviction that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was for this day and age. I learned of this man by accident or maybe a divine appointment, I still don't know. It was in a dream that I saw a man preaching from behind a box and Jesus telling me that all preachers should be like this. Like Jesus there was nothing to make him attractive to us, but in Seymour's case this was especially true since he had lost an eye to smallpox.
Four years later I came upon a book titled Azusa Street Now by Frank Bartleman, which tells the story of the great Azusa Street revival. To my great surprise I read of William Seymour preaching from behind a wooden box because they had no money for a pulpit. It told of William Seymour attending bible school in Houston but not able to sit inside because he was an African American, so he sat in the hallways. His teacher was Charles Parham who was teaching the biblical Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues as mentioned in the book of Acts chapter 2:4. Later Charles Parham would become one of Seymour's biggest critics, out of envy and bigotry.
Thought Seymour did not receive the Baptism of the Spirit he had a conviction that it was from God and soon after left Houston for Los Angles to teach on receiving it. He was invited to speak at a Holiness Church but after the first meeting was locked out of the building because of the message of speaking in tongues. Other people invited him to teach on this message at 214 North Bonnie Brae Street where large groups of African Americans and whites as well as Latin's sought God's gift as taught by William Seymour. On April 9 1906 Edward Lee who had taken in Seymour after he was rejected by the Holiness camp received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues, three days later Seymour himself received the gift.
Along with the gift of the Holy Spirit great miracles were also taking place along with manifestations of Gods presence. As word spread through the streets of the city hundreds came to see and experience what God was doing. Soon the house could hold no more and a new place was found that had once been a mission house but was now serving as a stable, this was 312 Azusa Street. After cleaning and adding benches and chairs services continued with many people coming to receive the Baptism of the Spirit and healing from sickness, others came just to see what this new religion was all about and stayed to become a part of the assembly. In the aftermath hundreds of thousands would be saved and have their lives changed forever.
Revival had at last come to America; there had been other revivals but never like this. From this humble man and those who came to hear him and others like him, revival would spread throughout the world. This would be the spark that would usher in the great Pentecostal denominations of today. Few people have ever heard of William Seymour in this day and age when all one hears is the daily crime report. But when the Almighty decides again to bring in a flood of power as in the days of Azusa Street he won't be going to the great mega churches and movie star preachers, he will look in our own back yard for people with a passion for the cross of Christ. As in all revivals, prayer, clean living, a love for God and a love for the souls of men was the catalyst that God used. We don't have to live in the past thinking that this is all there is to it. The Lord is always doing a new thing and a fresh wind is about to be unleashed upon the land that will make the past look like baby steps. Pray for revival.
About Author / Additional Info:
Two links on the Azusa Street Revival. http://frankbartleman.blogspot.com/