Smith Wigglesworth often referred to as ‘the Apostle of Faith,’ who was one of the pioneers of the Pentecostal revival that occurred a century ago was born on the 8th of June 1859 in Menston, Yorks
hire, England and he was born to a very poor family. As a 7-year-old child, he worked in the fields pulling turnips with his mother; he also worked in factories to help in providing for his family. Due to his labors, he was illiterate as a child.
At the age of eight, he became a born again Christian. His grandmother was a devout Methodist who took him to some of her meetings in church. At one of these meetings, there was a song being sung about Jesus being the lamb and Wigglesworth realized how much God loved him and his decision to believe Christ for his salvation was taken. He was immediately filled with the desire to spread his new found faith and love and he even led his own mother to Christ. His parents took him to Methodist and Anglican churches regularly where he was confirmed, baptized and had strong ground in Bible teaching in Plymouth Brethren while learning plumbing trade as an apprentice from one of the men in the Brethren movement. Wigglesworth married his wife, Polly Featherstone and at the time of their marriage, she was a preacher with the Salvation Army. They had one daughter and four sons.
Polly taught Wigglesworth how to read the Bible when she married him and that was his first time reading. He stated many times that the Bible was the only book he ever read, he also did not permit newspapers in his house, favouring the Bible to be their only reading material. Polly died in 1913, and this was a real shock to Wigglesworth. At her death, Wigglesworth prayed for her and commanded that death release her. Death obeyed and she came back to life but said “Wigglesworth – the Lord wants me.” His heartbroken response was “If the Lord wants you, I will not hold you”.
Wigglesworth believed that faith produces healing and seeing as he was prohibited from laying hands on people by the Sweden authorities, he began emphasizing and preaching on ‘’ Corporate Healing’’, where people would lay hands on themselves and he would just pray for them. He also ministered anointing with oil and “prayer handkerchiefs” (King George V received one of such Prayer handkerchief). He believed his sermons should make those who heard it either mad (angry) or glad! He would say, “If you do not progress every day, you are backsliding.”
Preaching in Norway one time with thousands gathered, after praying for something different to happen in the meeting, God said to him, “If you ask Me, I will give you every soul.” Wigglesworth asked, and the Spirit swept over the place. He had never seen anything like it. Wigglesworth attributed his success in ministry to speaking in tongues and his relationship with the Holy Ghost. He said: “I want you to see that he that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself or builds himself up. We must be edified before we can edify the church. I cannot estimate what I personally owe to the Holy Ghost method of spiritual edification. I am here before you as one of the biggest conundrums in the world. There never was a weaker man on the platform.
Language? None. Inability–full of it. All natural things in my life point exactly opposite to my being able to stand on the platform and preach the gospel. The secret is that the Holy Ghost came and brought this wonderful edification of the Spirit. I had been reading this Word continually as well as I could, but the Holy Ghost came and took hold of it, for the Holy Ghost is the breath of it, and He illuminated it to me.”
Although Smith Wigglesworth believed all sicknesses could be healed, he was a man afflicted with many sicknesses. At different points in his life, his wife and son died unexpectedly, his daughter was deaf, he suffered from kidney stone, sciatica, stroke and many other ailments. Wigglesworth would pray for others and they would be instantly healed but his healing would take months and even years, this did not deter him in any way instead it made him a strong believer in the healing powers of God through faith.
He was to undergo an immediate surgery to avoid pains and eventual death when he had kidney stones but he said to the Doctor, “Doctor, the God who made this body is the one who can cure it. No knife shall ever cut it as long as I live”. He tolerated six years of pain before he was delivered and often, he was sicker than the sick people he prayed for! He had an unstoppable faith.
There were numerous testimonies of divine healing during Wigglesworth’s ministry. Some of which included people being healed of tumor, tuberculosis, the lame confined to a wheelchair walking, many healed of cancer and much more. In Wigglesworth’s ministry, it was confirmed that 14 people were raised from the dead which included his wife Polly. He would often heal by hitting, slapping, or punching the plagued part of the body, sometimes with such a force that it flings them across the room. When asked about this, his response was “I don’t hit them, I hit the devil… you have no idea what I see behind the sickness and the one who is afflicted. I am not dealing with the person; I am dealing with the satanic forces that are binding the afflicted”. One time, Wigglesworth said to a sick person “I’ll only pray for you once, to pray twice is unbelief”. Hundreds would be healed all at once in his meetings while thousands were saved and healed as he impacted continents for Christ. One could say that Wigglesworth operated in a strong and unique faith in God and this manifested throughout his ministry. Wigglesworth’s ministry was based on four principles: First, read the Word of God, Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you. Third, believe the Word of God. Fourth, act on the Word.” He continued to minister until the time of his death on 12 March 1947.