An important characteristic, spiritual hunger, causes God to take us from one season to another. In Jesus’ day, just as in our day, many were caught up in a past time. But on the other hand, many also had a dissatisfaction in their hearts. Because of the sensitivity to the things of God, they knew, it was time for a change. There was no longer the peace of relying on the letter of the law that there had been. The desire for the Messiah to come had intensified in their hearts. The Pharisees also intensely wanted Messiah to come, but their desire came from their minds. Their “Messiah” had to fit their own scenario—not God’s—so they missed Him.
Today, there is a hunger for truth—a hunger for the Word. Physical hunger is one of the most powerful drives on the earth because it directly relates to survival of the body. In the same way, spiritual hunger is one of the most powerful instincts in the spirit realm because it supports the survival of our spiritual walk.
When people are starving, they will do things that otherwise they would not do. They will eat things that in better times would not be acceptable at all. The same is true in spiritual hunger. People are hungry for the written Word and for a direct, personal word from God. They are hungry for the fullness of the fivefold offices. They are so hungry to see God move that in many places, if they are not fed, they try to fill their hunger through false prophecies and false prophets.
Some are trying to do it themselves, trying to take hold of the prophetic anointing, and they are making big mistakes.
I believe that a hunger for anything spiritual is a sign that God’s time has changed. God’s answer to the spiritual craving in the earth today is on its way. The truth is coming in stability and accuracy. As we continue to prepare our hearts, God will continue to mature his leaders and proclaimers. By staying in the Word of God and prayer, we will continue to sharpen our sensitivity and excel in maturity.
When you sense God changing the times and seasons of your life, don’t resist Him. Change can be very exciting to those who are hungry for the Spirit of God. Don’t get complacent in your time with God or too comfortable in your relationship with Him. Stay hungry for the things of God and He will keep you in His perfect timing.
My grandmother is an old-time Pentecostal who, as a teenager, attended an Akron, Ohio, church where “hellfire and brimstone” were preached. Her church taught that you would not go to heaven unless you were baptized in the Holy Spirit. (Thank the Lord, we have come a long way since that time.) Grandma met people in her church who had been a part of the Azusa Street revival—the beginning of modern-day Pentecostalism.
The pastor of this church began a twenty-four-hour prayer chain, and Grandma volunteered to pray an hour a day as part of this chain. People in her day seemed to be more committed than many believers are today. It is difficult to get people to pray three seconds for the church or for anything else. Eternal things merit far more importance than natural things, and we need to spend more time developing the things of the Spirit in our lives.
Grandmas father taught her, “Never tell a lie. Once you have given your word, stick to it at any cost”—a good philosophy for everyone. We need that preached more often from our local church pulpits. Once you say you will do something, be willing to die to keep your word. Your word is your bond. Don’t let it float around with no meaning or commitment attached.
Grandma gave her word that she would pray an hour a day as part of Reverend McKinney s prayer chain. She would set her clock for an hour, but after praying for everything she could think of, she found that only ten minutes had passed. Prayer requires discipline and just like exercise, you become better with practice.
Grandma said, “I would not give up because I had committed myself to that hour. I told that man of God that I would pray an hour for his church, so I was going to do it or die.” And she thought she was going to die! She would pray about everything she knew to pray about, which back then included only her neighbors, the mayor, policemen, prostitutes, and unsaved loved ones. She was involved in her own little world. However, Grandma hungered and thirsted for the things of God, and it was during this time she developed into a mighty prayer warrior. The minute she hit her knees in prayer, the Holy Spirit came on the scene. That is what we should all be striving for.
During one of the evening meetings at the Sulphur, Oklahoma, camp meeting, Oral Roberts cried out to God in prayer, feeling as though he could no longer wait for God’s Spirit to fill him. As the time of evening worship and praise began, Oral opened his mouth to sing and was baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Roberts Liardon tells us that he began to speak with other tongues, as the disciples had at Pentecost in the book of Acts. (See Acts 2:4.) He had received God’s anointing to preach earlier in his ministry, but now he was empowered by the Holy Spirit as in the days of Pentecost!
A Busy Young Man
Oral was an intense young man, passionately searching for God and seeking to be used by Him in every way possible. Now that he had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, his intensity increased—all he wanted was more of God in his heart and in his life. At each evening camp service, he used his musical talent by playing the guitar in the young people’s praise band.
One night, as he hurriedly mounted the steps to the stage, he sat down beside a young woman who was tuning her guitar. She was a pretty schoolteacher with brown hair, a warm smile, and a desire to serve the Lord as a missionary. With nothing but ministry on his mind, Oral didn’t pay much attention to her that night. They spoke politely, and before the service began, he asked her if his hair was combed sufficiently.
Roberts Liardon tells us that Lester traveled to Denver, Colorado, to speak to a group of pastors about the new LeSea television station that would soon be on the air. As the evening drew to a close, a gentleman approached Lester from the back of the room. Quietly, the man stated that he had a message for Lester from the Lord. Lester’s response was not very warm. He was more than accustomed to hearing from the Lord for himself!
However, the gentleman continued on with a prophetic word:
Your life is like a tree planted in God. Your life is a tree, and there are branches on your tree. Your first evangelism as a young man is a branch on your tree…your missionary branches bore much fruit and still do. Your church is a branch. Your television ministry is a branch. Your radio ministry is a branch.
Taking a deep breath, he continued:
Thus saith the Lord, a new branch will spring forth upon your tree of life. It will be larger than all of the other branches. It will bear so much fruit that you will be amazed.
Unsure of the message’s meaning, Lester was certain that he was too old for any new branches! What could it mean?
A few weeks later, Lester was in Jerusalem conducting his annual Holy Land tour with a large group of believers. The Lord woke him up just before midnight one night with a new ministry vision.
Lester heard the voice of God in his heart, saying, One of my greatest concerns is that My own people, part of My church, do not suffer death by starvation before I return. Will you feed them? To them it will be an angelic food supply! To them it will be a miracle!
What an exciting honor! Just one week later, Lester walked up to Smith Wigglesworth’s front door and entered a new spiritual training ground in God’s presence. The Apostle of Faith was totally sold out to the kingdom of God and spreading God’s Word. He had little time for, or interest in, the cares of the world and concentrated only on knowing more of the presence and power of God. He even refused to allow Lester to bring a newspaper into his home, declaring that it was full of Hitler’s lies.
Roberts Liardon tells us that during their visits, Wigglesworth would read chapters of the Bible aloud to Lester; then, they would spend serious time storming the gates of heaven in prayer. When Smith Wigglesworth prayed, the Holy Spirit’s anointing was always heavy in the room. After prayer, Wigglesworth would share testimonies from his many years of walking with the Lord, and Lester would sit and listen, overwhelmed and weeping, as Wigglesworth spoke of the blessings and miracles of God.
For nearly two years, Lester visited Wigglesworth regularly at his home. The eighty-year-old man could pray longer and stronger than Lester, though more than fifty years his senior! Later in life, Lester spoke of Smith Wigglesworth as an unconventional man who was abrupt, at times, in his dealings with others but had a heart full of the power of the Holy Ghost. Wigglesworth believed God for divine health, and he spoke cheerfully of his morning ritual, saying, “I jump out of bed! I dance before the Lord at least ten or twelve minutes—high-speed dancing. I jump up and down and run around my room telling God how great He is, how wonderful He is, how glad I am to be associated with Him and to be His child.”
It had been over a year since Lester had received the terrifying vision of the roadway to hell. In the Sumrall revivals, many people had been saved, healed, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Yet, as much as the Lord was doing through his life, Lester could not begin to imagine the plans God was preparing for him in another part of the world.
The same night that Lester had seen a vision of hell, Alfred Howard Carter had been praying on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. At the time, he was the president of Hampstead Bible College in London, a general superintendent of a large British denomination, and a strong believer in the Pentecostal power of God. While seeking new direction in his ministry to Christ, Carter was impressed with an unusual prophetic word from the Lord. It went as follows:
I have found a companion for thee: I have called a worker to stand beside thee. He hath heard my call, he respondeth and he joineth thee in the work to which I have called thee….He is called and chosen and shalt join thee.
Roberts Liardon tells us that the Lord reassured Howard that he would recognize this companion by the words he would say to him upon their first meeting: Wherever you go, I will go. Over the high mountains, over the temptuous waves of the sea, into the deep valleys, into the plains. I will succor you, I will assist you, I will strengthen you, I will help you, and in every time of need I shall be with you. When you are old I will strengthen you and assist you and help you. I will succor you in your old age, and you shall be unto me as a father.
Jeffreys’ funeral service was held on February 1, 1962, at Kensington Temple. Over a thousand people came from all over the British Isles to pay tribute to this apostle of the Lord. Members of the Bible Pattern Church Fellowship were joined by believers from Elim, the Assemblies of God, and other denominations from around the country, as well as by envoys from churches in Sweden, Switzerland, and France.
Roberts Liardon tells us that the reverent congregation shed tears as Pastor R. G. Tweed, Secretary of the Bible Pattern Fellowship, read the Scriptures, and Jeffreys’ close friend, Albert Edsor, played the piano for Jeffreys one last time. Missing was Jeffreys’ dearest Revival Party associate, R. E. Darragh, who had died three years earlier, on Jeffreys’ seventieth birthday.
In his tribute to the beloved Principal, Edsor shared the following: “Jeffreys was a faithful man of God, a fearless man of God and a foremost fisher of men for God….He was first and foremost an outstanding soul-winner and ranks as one of the greatest Evangelists of this century, being active in his God-honored service for lost souls and the sick in body right up to the last.”
After the service, the congregation moved toward the cemetery, and “crowds lined the steps; crowds filled the forecourt; crowds thronged the streets; with many cars and taxis engaged for the occasion.” One participant commented nostalgically that it was “the funeral of a Prince,” Prince being the nickname used for Jeffreys by those closest to him.
The Elim churches that Jeffreys had planted were governed by a set of rules that were revised to meet the changing needs of the growing denomination. Three forms of government were recognized by Elim churches: central government from Clapham, personal government by a minister, and local government from deacons. The ministers of the denomination were closely supervised from the London headquarters, and the whole work was divided into districts, each with a governing superintendent. As the campaigns expanded and the churches grew, so did a sense of restlessness among the people in regard to the governing policies. Yet the power of the Holy Spirit continued to move among the cities of the British Isles.
Roberts Liardon tells us that in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the increased momentum of the Elim movement was reflected in the huge crowds that flocked to the ministry meetings of the charismatic Jeffreys. In each city, the Revival Party found that it had to move from the scheduled hall to another, larger building that could accommodate the crowds. For example, Jeffreys began his 1930 campaign in Birmingham in a Congregational church in the city. Within five days, the church was filled to capacity, and so the meetings were moved to Town Hall, then to the Embassy Skating Rink, which sat eight thousand. In the final weeks of the campaign, they moved to the massive Bingley Hall Exhibition Centre, which had seating for fifteen thousand! Jeffreys preached twenty-six meetings in that hall, and the number of converts during the entire campaign was recorded at ten thousand.
At that time, the Revival Party consisted of R. E. Darragh, song leader; Albert W. Edsor, pianist; and James McWhirter, campaign organizer. These men were with Jeffreys almost constantly, offering him aid and support. They worked as a single unit and “took the city by storm.”
On Good Friday in April 1928, tier upon tier of historic Royal Albert Hall in London was filled to overflowing, testing the capacity of the amphitheater, the arena, the boxes, and the orchestra pit. Several thousand people watched in anticipation, their faces beaming. They rose to their feet, rejoicing, and looked with rapt attention at the scene below.
In an area below the platform stood a long line of exuberant men and women who had changed from their street clothes. The women were dressed in long, white robes, the men in white shirts and trousers. They shouted “Hallelujah!” and “Praise the Lord!” as they waited their turns with joyful anticipation. Some of them sang hymns or waved enthusiastically at the crowd around them. One at a time, they descended the stairs into the sparkling water in the baptismal tank in the center of the hall, which was surrounded by beautiful hydrangea bushes.
Roberts Liardon tells us that a dark-haired man wearing a black robe stood waist-deep in the waters waiting to greet each candidate before plunging him or her into the waters of baptism.
In the specially designed iron tank, the water ran in a stream as a reminder of the Jordan River. As each candidate came forward, evangelist George Jeffreys introduced him or her and asked for a brief testimony. The first to be baptized was Florence Munday of Southampton, who had been bedridden for fourteen years before being healed in the name of Jesus. One by one, each individual would emerge from the water and exit on the other side of the stage, full of the love of Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit.
Even while pastoring his church in Dallas and working as a delegate for the Assemblies of God, Fred Bosworth traveled over 75,000 miles throughout the Southwest and took every opportunity to preach. If there was even one ear open to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Fred was eager to bring the good news! He believed in an interceding church that also reached out to the lost, so he organized many tent meetings in different areas of Dallas that occurred simultaneously. The gospel was preached night after night, and more and more people turned to Christ for salvation.
Roberts Liardon tells us that as the revival began to slow down in Dallas, Fred and Estella’s only son, four-year-old Vernon, became sick and suddenly died.
Within months of the loss, Fred resigned from the church he had pastored and loved. From years of studying the Word, Bosworth had come to the conclusion that speaking in tongues was not the only initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The other members of the Assemblies of God founding board disagreed with Bosworth; they believed unanimously that tongues as the initial evidence of the baptism should be one of the irrefutable tenets of the denomination. A fellow minister in the Dallas area began to spread rumors about Bosworth, accusing him of heresy among the Pentecostal churches.
Quietly and without protest, Bosworth turned in his Assemblies of God ordination papers in July 1918. He was invited to present his beliefs to the General Council one more time concerning why speaking in tongues need not be the initial evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Bosworth did so with a humble heart, presenting his beliefs passionately. The Council listened but still voted against his proposals, and they parted ways.